Where would Severna Park's girls soccer team be without identical twins Tami and Tina Riley? "In trouble," said sweeper Ellen Westcoat.
Graduation cost the two-time defending state 3A-4A champion three first-team All-Metro picks, among others, and the Falcons have struggled at times.
But goalkeeper Tami and fullback Tina -- seniors and returning first-team All-Metro choices -- have been instrumental in maintaining a three-year, 38-game unbeaten streak heading into today's showdown with undefeated Chesapeake of Anne Arundel.
"I don't think there's any way we would be unbeaten without them. They're a dominant force on the field," said coach Joyce Stefancik, 37-0-1 (with 31 straight wins) since losing the 1987 Region IV final in overtime.
You could perhaps get by without one of them, but not both -- and I have no idea which one I would give up," Stefancik said.
They are daughters of of Myrna Riley, a former high school field hockey and basketball player, and Patrick Riley, a former Chicago Bears draft choice from Northwestern. Tami, the elder of the two (by 27 minutes), is perhaps easier to assess because of statistics. She has 26 career shutouts -- three this year -- and has come into her own backing up a less-dominant team.
Tami Riley's 29 saves in seven games are five more than all last year, when 16-0 Severna Park outscored the opposition, 96-3.
a way, I'm glad I've had more of an opportunity to show what I can do," she said.
Oakland Mills isn't. In this season's opener, the Scorpions outshotthe Falcons, 23-16, but Tami Riley's 13 saves held a 1-1 tie until Nicky Cecere's game-winning penalty kick in overtime.
Riley's stop of a penalty kick against Old Mill and her sliding save on breakaway by Megan McGwen of Broadneck came when both games were still on the line.
She's intelligent and strong, with good size [5 feet 8], great hands and tremendous leaping ability," Stefancik said.
Tina Riley "is one of our most overlooked players, simply because there are no stats kept on the times she's stopped the other team's leading scorer," Stefancik said.
She's our best header and completely controls the air. She's also a strong tackler who reads plays well.
And as for leadership, the other kids depend on her -- Tami depends on her -- to take charge out there."
Said Westcoat: "The Rileys always end up directing things. And playing sweeper in front of Tami and behind [stopper] Tina, I know the ball will be safe.
"We all feel thoroughly comfortable with them out there."
The Rileys' success also includes lacrosse (their favorite) and basketball.
The twins played on the last two (of four straight) state 3A-4A lacrosse championship teams, winners of 50 straight games since 1987, and on basketball teams that twice have finished county runner-up to two-time state champion Broadneck.
Both consider basketball "unfinished business," but they expect continue playing sports, most likely lacrosse, through college. Where is still undecided.
The two say they have been contacted by at least 50 different colleges.