Tori Hansen: From North Carolina to Melbourne Victory

Hansen, a formidable force on the field, has quickly become a fan favourite since her arrival on loan from the NWSL club Orlando Pride.

Originally hailing from the football-rich state of North Carolina, Tori Hansen’s roots in the sport run deep.

Hansen’s football journey began in the American college ranks, where she played for the University of North Carolina. Reflecting on her time there, she describes it as “the best experience ever” and emphasises the impact of playing under the legendary Anson Dorrance.

“I’ve actually tried to get a lot of the girls to go to college as well because it was such an amazing experience with the social aspect and football aspect. The overall experience was incredible,” she said.

“And obviously playing under Anson Dorrance who’s kind of a legend in the soccer world and even coming over here a lot of people knew of him. So that was really cool.”

Transitioning from college to professional football, Hansen was selected 25th overall in the NWSL draft to the Orlando Pride in 2023, where she was then loaned to Victory.

“It’s a lot different professionally than in college because professionally, you can focus solely on football for the time that I’m at the facility.

“Whereas in college, you have so many other things that you have to focus on, the school and social life.

“But coming to a professional environment, you can focus a lot more on the game.”

Since the move to Melbourne, Hansen quickly gained the trust of Head Coach Jeff Hopkins after having started 12 of 14 matches so far this season.

“It was definitely a hard transition coming from not playing at all at Orlando to coming here and working my way into the lineup,” she said.

“It’s a fight every week. We have some really incredible players here. So I have to earn my spot every week, which has been going well and hopefully, I’ll be able to keep going and help the team win as much as possible.”

Speaking on her time in Melbourne so far, Tori expressed that her experience to date has been “awesome”.

“I love it here. The experience overall has been awesome,” she explained.

“I love the team. I love the girls. Playing has been amazing; coming over here and getting as many minutes as I’ve had has been invaluable.

“And the country itself has been gorgeous. I’ve been trying to see as much as I can on the off days and just make the most of this experience.”

As the Liberty A-League season approaches its end, Tori has set her sights on only one thing. Victory faced a rocky start to the season but is currently riding a positive wave, sitting in fourth place after a six-match unbeaten run. Tori’s aspirations extend beyond just making finals; she envisions lifting the Champions Trophy at the end of the season.

“Obviously, championships are why I came here, so I’m really hoping we can do that,” Tori stated.

A key influence in Tori’s Melbourne journey has been teammate and captain, Kayla Morrison, who shares a similar trajectory from the college system to the NWSL and now to the A-Leagues.

“She’s someone that a lot of people would love to have next to them, and I’m very grateful that I’m one of the players that gets to play with her,” Tori expressed.

“When I first arrived, she was super helpful giving me rides around the city and it’s been incredible just being able to play next to her. She’s an incredible player and a great leader. I’ve learned a lot from her leadership style and who she is as a player on the field.”