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It didn’t take long for Emily Richardson to fall in love with the University of Evansville.
After taking a visit to the college in the fall, the Elizabethtown senior knew Evansville was where she wanted to spend the next four years of her life.
Richardson was also considering Morehead State and a few other in-state schools, but knew Evansville was the place for her.
“I was just feeling out my options,” she said. “Then I went to Evansville and I just loved it. It’s got a really homey feel to it and it’s a good academic background. It’s a small school and I felt it was perfect for me.
“I was content,” Richardson added. “I pretty much stopped looking elsewhere and seeing what else I could get. I hung out with the team a couple of times and met some teachers. They have good areas of study that I want to go into.”
Richardson signed a national letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to play for Evansville’s women’s soccer team.
“I’m very excited,” she said Wednesday evening. “Not very many people can say that they’ve played D-I soccer.”
Elizabethtown coach Pat Black said he believes Evansville is a good fit for Richardson, who also runs track for Elizabethtown.
“We’re real happy that she found some place to further her career and show herself well,” he said. “We’re excited for her. She’s known for a while that she was going to go there. I’m glad to have the opportunity to coach all the girls. I’m grateful they’ve used the program to their advantage both academically and athletically.”
Black hopes to someday watch Richardson at the next level.
“Evansville’s a pretty good haul,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll play somebody close to Louisville sometime. I look forward to doing that.”
Having played the sport from a young age, Richardson knew she’d like to continue playing after graduating.
She just didn’t expect it to be at this level. So when Evansville coach Krista McKendree offered her a scholarship, it caught Richardson by surprise.
“I honestly didn’t know what to think,” Richardson said. “I was hoping I’d get the chance. Once they offered me the scholarship, I knew it was perfect for me. I knew it was the perfect place for me.
“It’s what I’ve wanted,” she added. “I’ve played soccer for almost my whole life. This is what I’ve strived to do. I’m very excited and very happy that I’ll get to do it.”
Richardson gave McKendree, the only All-American in Evansville’s women’s soccer history who has led the Aces to two Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships in five seasons, a verbal commitment shortly after the Lady Panthers’ season ended.
“I love the coaches,” Richardson said. “They know what they’re doing and I’m excited to work with them. I hope to better myself and make the team better. They’ve won their conference a few times and I just hope to take them farther.”
Evansville went 5-8-3 last season, including 4-1-1 in conference play. The Aces lost to Indiana State in the first round of the conference tournament in November.
During her senior season with the Lady Panthers, Richardson had nine assists and 23 goals – the final coming in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over fourth-ranked Louisville Assumption that helped Elizabethtown to become the first area girls’ team, as well as the first region girls’ squad, to advance to the state tournament’s final four.
Among the honors Richardson earned this past season were 17th District All-Tournament Team, first team News-Enterprise All-Area Team and first team Coaches’ All-State Team.
“This year we made it to the final four and I want to help Evansville make history,” said Richardson, who had 39 goals and 19 assists in her Elizabethtown career.
Richardson, who plans to major in international relations with a minor in Chinese, is glad to have the process over with.
She no longer feels the stress that comes with choosing a college.
“Everyone is still freaking out about where they want to go,” she said. “It’s great to be able to say I know where I’m going and I have a plan. I’m 110 percent happy that I no longer have to freak out about college or anything like that.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org..