In the past, Severna Park's Tami Riley was sometimes called a good goalkeeper playing behind a great team.
This season, Riley came into her own, as a less-dominant Falcons team gave her the opportunity to display the broad range of skills of a top-notch three-sport athlete and earn The Sun's Player of the Year honor.
Severna Park outscored its opposition, 67-5, compared with 96-3 last year.
"Tami is intelligent and strong, with good size [5 feet 8], great hands and tremendous leaping ability," said coach Joyce Stefancik. "She is definitely the best goalie in the state."
Stefancik was seconded by North County coach Marianne Shultz. "She's the best I've ever seen on the high school level. Nobody else has that agility and the ability to step in and make the saves she makes," Shultz said. "She's in shape, and she's fast, smart and quick to react. Her punch is fabulous -- and I just can't find a weak spot."
This year, Riley's 62 saves -- nearly half her three-year total of 134 -- included 13 in a season-opening, 2-1 victory over Oakland Mills in which the Falcons were outshot, 23-16.
In Saturday's state Class 3A-4A championship, Riley made four key saves in the waning minutes to preserve a 2-1 victory over the same team.
In between those two games, Riley's 11-shutout season was highlighted by the save of a penalty kick (she never has allowed one) against Old Mill, a spectacular sliding kick save on a breakaway by Megan McGwen of Broadneck and a leaping stop early in the Region IV championship against Broadneck.
"In a way, I'm glad I've had more of an opportunity to show what I can do," said Riley, a senior who is also a point guard in basketball and a wing on Severna Park's four-time defending state champion lacrosse team that has won 50 straight games.
"Also, I'm honored just to be here," said Riley, who moved to the Baltimore area from Memphis, Tenn., after sixth grade. "It's the -- academics, the sports and the people -- all of the talent."
She has 37 shutouts and has allowed 11 goals, only once permitting more than one in a game -- in last year's 6-2 victory over Broadneck.
Severna Park is 46-0-1 with 40 straight wins since Riley became the starter in 1988.
"In my estimation, she will be a real prize for any college fortunate enough to get her," Stefancik said. "And if she doesn't go as a goalie with a top 10 school, she's as good a field player as there is in this county."