Playmaker Riley heart and soul of South River

April 16, 1995|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

When South River girls lacrosse coach Paula Tobin calls Megan Riley "a little spitfire," she takes pains to point out that she means it in an affectionate way.

"I say it with love," Tobin said of her leading scorer. "Megan is like an adopted daughter."

Tobin's biological daughter, Amy, a 1994 South River graduate, is playing lacrosse at UMBC. Six years ago, Amy and Riley, then a sixth-grader, became friends when Riley joined the Mayo Mustangs youth program, which since 1980 had been coached by Tobin.

Except for a year with the Davidsonville team -- whose coach was Greg Dick, now a South River assistant -- Tobin has been Riley's coach.

"At an early age, it was evident that Megan was a good athlete with the ability, energy and hand-eye coordination to become a nice little high school athlete," Tobin said.

Riley is en route to leading South River in scoring for the third straight year. She had 15 goals and four assists entering last week. Last year she was the second-leading scorer in the county behind Annapolis' Cristi Samaras, who had 78 goals and 38 assists and is now at Princeton.

Riley made The Baltimore Sun's second-team All-Metro list and was acclaimed a high school All-America. With 66 goals, she led South River to a 9-3 record and into the playoffs. In reaching the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the Seahawks gained the state Class 1A-2A final before bowing to Liberty.

"We feel we can win the regions again," Tobin said. "This is a nice team. We lost a lot of people and teams figured we were rebuilding, but our expectations are high. We haven't peaked yet."

If South River is to win the regions again, Riley will have to lead them.

"Megan's not shy about telling people what to do," Tobin said. "She pumps up the team when it's down. She points out breakdowns, makes suggestions to me and runs in plays. She's the playmaker."

The word is out on the attacker who co-captains the team with Liz Colaccio: Double-team her, even triple-team her. In effect, teams are saying to Riley: OK, prove you're one of the best in the county.

Riley looks back on one game, a defeat, this year with mixed emotions. After losing to Severna Park in past seasons by such scores as 20-2 and 17-4, South River nearly beat the Falcons for the first time in school history. The Seahawks had a three-goal lead, but Severna Park rallied to win, 11-9.

Tobin called it "heart-breaking" and blamed herself for having "small players in the circle on draws and allowing Severna Park to control the midfield and get back in the game." But Riley found a positive spin.

"We felt good afterward," Riley said. "A close loss to a team like Severna Park made us realize we had a good team. It lifted us."

An honor roll student with a 3.25 grade-point average, Riley also was a three-year letter winner in soccer as a goalie. But in college -- probably Loyola or James Madison -- she expects to play lacrosse.

"She's had a love affair with lacrosse since sixth grade," Tobin said. "She can't stay away from it."

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