During a Columbia soccer game, it’s rare to witness the team lose. They’ve only done that once all season.
Another rarity in the sport comes courtesy of senior Sean Rickey.
“I kind of call it the flip throw-in,” Rickey said. “But I’m a gymnast, on top of soccer, and I tried it one day. I heard about it and it kind of came naturally.”
It makes the mundane task of throwing in the ball look like he’s in the middle of a kung-fu movie. But it’s about much more than aesthetics when it comes to the flip throw-in.
“It’s basically a corner every time we get it in a game — it depends on how many we get, but its nearly like having 20 corners a game,” Rickey said. “It’s really dangerous and works out well for us.”
Rickey says he could probably throw the ball about 40-plus yards. The extra yards have proven effective.
In one instance, his throw-ins set up not just a win, but a tournament championship.
On Sept. 26, Columbia beat Ladue, 3-2, to win the CYC Tournament. Rickey scored two goals in the game.
The first goal he scored was early in the first half and the Eagles got the ball on the sideline in offensive territory. Columbia players stacked the box looking to take one of Rickey’s throw-ins and put it in the back of the net.
Rickey contorted his body and let the ball fly. Instead of hitting any of his teammates, the ball hit the Ladue goalie’s hands and went in for the goal.
With 17 seconds left in the same game, Rickey flipped his way into a penalty kick. Since he had done so many throughout the game, his throw-in didn’t have as much gas to it. The Ladue goalkeeper misjudged the ball, which was heading toward the top of the box. He went up for the ball, but brought down Columbia’s Adam Becker instead.
The Eagles were awarded the penalty kick and turned to Rickey, who scored the game-winning goal.
Rickey’s legend was already growing before this season, when coach Jason Mathenia took over the team in 2013.
“Since I’ve been a part of this program, I’ve known of Sean Rickey and his throw-in,” Mathenia said. “They’re absolutely a set piece. They’re a set piece that is part of our game and game plan. We use every throw to our advantage the best we can, for sure.”
So, whenever Columbia gets the ball in the offensive end of the field, be on the lookout for Rickey.
“I’d seen them a little bit, but they’re not really common,” Rickey said. “My dad and I decided to see if I could give it a try and I’m able to do it. It works well.”
It should be noted Rickey can do more than create scoring chances with his throw-ins. Rickey leads the team with 25 goals and 27 assists. But he isn’t the only one contributing to the team. Seventeen players have scored goals for the team.
“Obviously, looking at our season, we’ve had some great wins against bigger teams than us,” Rickey said. “We’ve done well in tournaments. We’ve had a great season so far.”