High School Sports

Columbia soccer star Sean Rickey headed for Division II Southern Indiana

Midfielder Sean Rickey is the second member of the Columbia High boys soccer team to join Southern Indiana.

Rickey recently signed with the Division II Screaming Eagles and will play four more years with Columbia teammate Adam Becker, who also will be a freshman at the Evansville., Ind., school. Becker also is a midfielder.

“I liked the conference that they’re in. There’s a lot of good teams in there,” Rickey said of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. “I’ve heard it’s one of the best D-II leagues in the country.

“I liked the coaches and the engineering and business programs that they have at Southern Indiana. I knew engineering was something I said I wanted to do. Some of the other schools I was looking at didn’t offer that. That wasn’t the only reason, but that was a factor.”

Rickey, a member of the News-Democrat’s All-Area First Team, also considered Eastern Illinois and Marshall, Division I schools, and Division II Bellarmine, which also plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

I liked the coaches and the engineering and business programs that they have at Southern Indiana. I knew engineering was something I said I wanted to do. Some of the other schools I was looking at didn’t offer that. That wasn’t the only reason, but that was a factor.

Columbia senior Sean Rickey on signing with Southern Indiana

“The D-I schools, I wasn’t sure how much I would play my first year,” Rickey said. “Southern Indiana was the best fit for me. ... I’m excited about playing with Adam Becker. I’ve been playing with him for a while.”

Two other players from Rickey’s St. Louis Scott Gallagher team, Marion’s Adam Newman and Eureka’s Drew Albert, have committed to Southern Indiana.

Southern Indiana, coached by Matt Santoro, was 8-7-3 last season.

Rickey, who possesses a lethal flip throw (Sean Rickey throw-in), has been one of the best players in the metro-east the last two years. He had 25 goals and 27 assists last fall as the Eagles finished 22-2-1 and won the Cahokia Conference. In 2014, Rickey had eight goals and 10 assists to help lead Columbia to the Class 1A state championship.

Rickey said Southern Indiana became interested in signing him after seeing him play a game for his club team, St. Louis Scott Gallagher. He said the flip throw intrigued the coaches.

“They definitely liked that,” Rickey said. “I probably started doing it in seventh grade. My dad (Mike) had always wanted me to try it because I’m a competitive gymnast. I finally tried it in seventh grade and it ended up working out pretty well.”

Being in gymnastics made the transition to a flip throw all the easier.

“It wasn’t too hard to pick up,” said Rickey, who estimates his flip throws travel about 40 yards. “As the season went on, some teams started to pick up on it. Still, it’s an element of surprise at some point.”

Rickey hopes Southern Indiana uses him at central midfield. He doesn’t expect to be redshirted, but hopes he shows well enough to get significant playing time.

Columbia had hoped to defend its 2014 state title despite being bumped up to Class 2A. But the Eagles’ dreams were shattered when they fell 2-1 to Alton Marquette in the semifinals of the Columbia Sectional.

It was a great season for me, but a tough way to end it,” Rickey said. “We had a great season up to that point. I think we’ve all kind of moved past it.”

Two Panthers sign

O’Fallon players Matt Benway and Jake Koenig signed Division I letters of intent Wednesday. Both players had previously issued verbal committments.

Benway, a defender, signed with Western Illinois, while Koenig, a midfielder, signed with Truman State. Koenig had 18 goals and 11 assists last season; Benway had five goals and three assists. Both players were voted to the News-Democrat’s All-Area First Team.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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