A dynamic duo: Russmann sisters lead their team to success

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Joey Borbeck

Sisters Isabel and Morgan Russmann playing together at Pleasant Valley High School Spartan Stadium. The sisters have proved to be a dynamic duo as they assist the Spartans in an undefeated season and pursue a state championship.

Matt Mickle, PV Only Editor

The Pleasant Valley girls soccer team is 10-0 to start the season after losing last year due to COVID-19.

On April 22, 2021, the Iowa state soccer rankings came out, and the Spartans were on top of the leaderboard, with wins over three of the top five teams. 

The Spartans offense is propelled by two sisters who are key components to the team’s success this spring. 

Senior Isabel Russmann is a team captain and serves as the center midfielder for the Spartans. She was recently named Iowa’s Pacesetter by Quad Cities sports journalist Matt Coss. Isabel has been a member of the varsity squad since her freshman year and was named second team all-conference, second team all-district and second team all-state as a sophomore.

Due to Isabel being pulled up to varsity as a freshman, head coach Ed Knupp has been able to observe her growth and discover her strongest role on the team. “Isabel has been at the center of everything we do since the end of her freshman season,” Knupp said. “She has a high work rate and she is an outstanding teammate, always supportive and very positive,” he added.

Isabel’s younger sister, Morgan Russmann, is only a freshman and has already racked up 11 goals throughout the first 10 games, helping the team to tie for second in the Mississippi Athletic Conference (MAC).

Although Morgan is more often than not the youngest player on the field, she shows no signs of fear or lack of confidence or aggression.

Knupp has been able to find ways to use her aggressiveness and natural soccer abilities not only for getting the ball in the back of the net, but for helping others to do the same. “Morgan has added to our goal-scoring mindset. She is an available target for our midfield and also creates shot opportunities for others with her dynamic play,”  he explained.

A sibling dynamic can often be one of unrest or comparison, causing issues when asked to work together in competitive settings. For the Russmann sisters, this has never been an issue. “We’ve been playing in the backyard together since we could walk. We understand each other’s strengths and know how to play together within our system,” Isabel said.

Although Isabel felt she missed out on opportunities to grow as a player when her junior season was cancelled due to the pandemic, she has refocused those feelings into drive.

Morgan has gained a deeper perspective into the sport of soccer as a result, and this has impacted her greatly.  “Ever since she got her season taken from her, she has been go, go, go,” Morgan said of her sister. “Seeing the work she put it in inspired me to be better and never take a game for granted.”

Soccer has been around in the Russmann family for generations. Their mother, Deandra, was a standout soccer player for PVHS and has since instilled a love for soccer in all four of her children. Deandra decided to hang up her cleats after her final high school game and has regretted not playing in college ever since.

Isabel recognized this regret and felt compelled to avoid the same mistake. She decided to sign with Loras College to further both her academic and athletic careers. “My mom has told me countless times how much she wishes she played college soccer, so I couldn’t make the same mistake she did,” Isabel explained.

Brad Russmann, Isabel and Morgan’s father, has been watching his daughters develop their skills since the day they were old enough to join a competitive league. Brad has been the girls’ number one fan for as long as he can remember, and being able to see his daughters pursue their passion together has been a dream come true for him. 

Due to being an avid fan of his daughters’ soccer careers for the past 15 years, Brad has seen their hard work flourish.  Each season has brought different aspects of development for the girls, but this year has shown Brad a unique outlook on their dedication. 

“Both girls have worked hard since they were young – dedicating time both in season and out of season to continue to get better. It’s their passion and no doubt they have worked really hard to get to this point,” Brad explained.

Although this is simultaneously the first and last season the girls will play together, they hope to take full advantage of the remainder of the season and are actively working in pursuit of a state title.