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Blazing the Trail

Article by: Theo Tate, AdVantage News, (618)463-0612

After enjoying an outstanding prep soccer career at Granite City that included three varsity letters, two trips to the state tournament and an all-state award, Staci Riggio decided to stay closer to home for college as she joined the Lewis and Clark Community College women’s soccer team.

It turned out to be a good move.

Riggio, whose maiden name is Dowdy, quickly blossomed into one of the top players in the country during her two years with the Trailblazers, tallying 42 goals and 32 assists and earning a junior college player of the year award.

The outstanding career at the Godfrey school caught the attention of the NJCAA Women’s Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame committee. She was one of three players inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame.

The ceremony happened in November at Foley, Ala., during the NJCAA women’s soccer national tournament, where Lewis and Clark participated and finished with a 1-1 record. Riggio didn’t attend.

“I’m humbled,” Riggio said. “There’s a lot of talent in the soccer world and a lot of success. So I was very humbled by the fact that I was honored in such a way.”

Kelly Drury and Laura Goeke, both standouts from the St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley teams in the late 1980s, also were inducted.

Riggio said she found out about her hall of fame honor from Corey Rose, president of the NJCAA Women’s Soccer Coaches Association.

“I coach select soccer right now (at Kirkwood United) and we were pulling in for a game,” Riggio said. “He called. My whole family was in the car, so we were able to celebrate the news together. So it was kind of neat and fun.”

Riggio graduated from GCHS in 1995. She played at L&C in 1995 and 1996 before playing two more years at Saint Louis University. She also worked as an assistant coach at McKendree University for several years.

Tim Rooney, who has been coaching the L&C women’s soccer program since 1993, said Riggio was a valuable player for the Trailblazers since her arrival 24 years ago.

“She turned the corner for our program,” Rooney said. “She was one of the biggest players we had coming in at that time because once she got there, we were able to get some more from Granite.”

Riggio finished with 76 points and earned the NSCAA Junior College Player of the Year award during her sophomore year at L&C. She was also listed on the NJCAA All-Century team, comprising the top women’s soccer players from the sport’s inception to 1999.

“She can do everything,” Rooney said. “She was good on the ball and she was a good passer and she had a good shot. She was one of the first real players that we got. Obviously, we kind of lucked out and we got her.”

Riggio credits Rooney and former GCHS coach Gene Baker for her outstanding soccer career.

“Gene Baker had groomed me to become a great player, but Tim knew there was a whole other level and he pushed me and he got me there,” she said.

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