The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

June 25, 2014

Athens' Ridgeway is News Courier’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year

— Just like scoring a touchdown in football, it’s always the goal scorer that gets the credit in soccer. But without that slick pass from a midfield maestro or perfect cross from a winger, that person probably doesn’t score the goal.

Recent Athens graduate Riley Ridgeway did both for Athens and is the News Courier’s Girls Player of the Year.

Ridgeway leaves Athens as the all-time assists leader, an achievement she reached as a junior. A four-year starter at Athens, Ridgeway reached the state tournament each season, including the 5A state championship game three times.

“It’s really exciting,” Ridgeway said about playing in three straight state finals. “As a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect until I got there. The atmosphere was a lot different when we got to the finals.”

Playing on high school soccer’s biggest stage caught the eye of college coaches. Ridgeway committed to play soccer nearby at UAH last year and signed with the Chargers in February.

She will most likely play right midfield or right winger at UAH, a position she is comfortable with both at Athens and her club team.

“I played different positions, but I definitely prefer right midfield,” said Ridgeway. “That’s my comfort zone. I know that position. I know where I want the ball. If I had to choose where I wanted to play, that’s where I would be.”

Ridgeway played predominantly in right midfield for Athens this season, but was also used in central midfield and at forward. Regardless of position, Ridgeway excelled.

As a senior, she led the team with 18 assists and 14 goals. The versatile midfielder put up similar numbers in her previous three seasons, but this year was different. As one of only two senior starters, Ridgeway and fellow senior Miranda Hudleston had to take on a bigger role.

“It was a lot different. It was a lot more of a leadership role,” said Ridgeway.

Along with her expanded role as of one of the team’s senior captains, she and her teammates had to adjust to a new coach after Athens boys basketball coach Stace Tedford took over.

“In general, he’s just a really good coach,” said Ridgeway. “He knows what to say to push you. Me and Miranda (Hudleston) were in Tedford’s office every day.”

She recently returned from the USSF Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where her Huntsville club team competed against teams from across the Southeast. After graduating from Athens last month, Ridgeway will finally have a break from the sport she loves until heading to UAH this fall.

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Local News 2
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