Glory Days Magazine Female Senior of the Year: Rialee Allen, Ocean CityBy DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Late in the first half of the Group 4 field hockey semifinals at Egg Harbor Township High School last fall, Ocean City coach Cory Terry lit into her star player, Rialee Allen, who was not having a particularly good game up to that point against Moorestown. It was a rare occurrence, a coach reaming out a star player during a playoff game. But it worked. Allen came to life in the second half and led the Red Raiders to a 2-1 victory in that game, and a 5-0 win over Warren Hills in the state championship game later that week. In the sectional final, group semifinal and state championship game, Allen finished with three goals and three assists.
“I honestly needed that. That sparked me,” Allen said of the heated exchange between herself and coach Terry. “I usually get down on myself when coaches yell at me, but that was a do-or-die situation. You’re either going to end your season right there, or you’re going to push yourself and find it in you to score or get an assist, or do something that will benefit your team. When you’re expected to do a lot more and you fall short, that’s embarrassing, so you have to pick it up. It helped me when she yelled at me because that got me motivated. The whole attack line came together after that, and I think that’s what helped us win that game.”
“With Rialee, if you see her backing off, even for a second, you’re like, ‘what’s wrong with you? That’s not your M.O.’ I can get a little intense, especially during playoff games, but they know that intensity is my desire to get their desire up,” Terry explained. “If you’re with someone who is hum-drum, that brings your energy down. But if you’re with someone whose energy is up and pushing you to get your energy up, that becomes contagious. She’s definitely someone who picks up on that energy. She’s a catalyst, but as people around her pick up their intensity, that feeds her fire even more.”
It was a rare occasion when this year’s Glory Days Magazine Female Senior of the Year needed inspiration to do anything on an athletic field at Ocean City High School. She finished her field hockey career as the school’s all-time assists leader and also was a huge part of the lacrosse program’s success the past four years. Even though she was relatively inexperienced in lacrosse, she still helped establish Ocean City as one of the teams to beat in the Cape-Atlantic League, and led the Red Raiders to their first league title this spring.
“We all started playing lacrosse in eighth grade, so none of us were the best or the most skillful, but we tried hard and I think that’s all you can really ask for. I always liked the sport, but it was a growing process because you had to learn how to work with a different group of girls,” Allen said. “In field hockey, that was everybody’s main sport. Lacrosse wasn’t everybody’s secondary sport, but it was for a lot of girls, so you had to meet new people that you never played with before. You’d have girls from soccer, basketball, tennis — it was a mixture of girls from all different sports on one team.”
In field hockey is where Allen really thrived, as she led the Red Raiders to four straight South Jersey championships and a pair of state titles. Allen said she wanted to be just like her sisters, who also had outstanding athletic careers at Ocean City.
“That was my incentive for playing because I always wanted to be just as good as my sisters. Going into my freshman year I ran every day because I wanted to be on that field. I had a little bit of a competition with my sister and I wanted to be as good as her, so I trained every day in the summer before my freshman year so I could be a starter, and that’s what I ended up doing,” Allen said. “I didn’t expect that at all. Freshman year, I didn’t really know how to play, I just tried as hard as I could. That was my main goal. In my junior year, my goal was to get the assist record, because assists are just as important as goals. I’m just always striving to be the best I can be. I don’t keep track of my stats (during the season). I finished up with 99 assists and coach Terry was like, ‘you couldn’t have gotten one more to get to 100?’ But I had no idea where I stood with that stuff.”
Allen’s exploits on the field often left some of her teammates speechless.
“Being in the back, I’m always yelling at the forwards. Sometimes I can get a little mean, but I hope she liked me telling her things that she couldn’t see but I could. It was fun to watch her. Every time she would score some ridiculous goal I would just be standing there with my jaw open and thinking, ‘there’s no way that just went in,’” said fellow senior Megan Keenan, a defender on the field hockey and lacrosse teams. “Especially in lacrosse, she would literally pull out a field hockey shot on the lacrosse field and I would be like, ‘is she kidding with that shot?’ I always knew that Rialee would pull through when we needed her. She was always stepping up to the plate.”
Eventually, Allen became a team leader in both sports, and she had plenty of examples to follow while she was a younger player.
“I did a lot of different clubs teams for field hockey and lacrosse because I wanted to be the best I could be. You start off not really knowing how to play when you pick up a stick, but I started working with older girls like Lauren McNally and Jackie Fenton. I eventually got good at field hockey, and I started training with really good lacrosse players. And that’s what you have to do. You have to put in the extra mile to become successful, and that’s exactly what I strive to do,” she said. “You want to keep up the history of Ocean City field hockey. You can’t let up even for a second, because you know we have a target on our backs and everyone is coming for us.”
Coach Terry said Allen led by example, by doing the little things that nobody outside the program would ever really know about.
“The thing that’s so impressive about Rialee is from the first moment she stepped onto the field, you couldn’t not notice her. In her freshman year, it was just her sheer effort and her hustle and intensity. If you look at Rialee’s highlights it always looks like she is running through a fire. She just has this burning intensity, and that’s something you can’t coach. As her skills started matching her intensity, it’s not surprising she ended up being our assists leader in a single season and career, because she was always making things happen. She scored a lot of goals, but what also speaks a lot about her is her assists. She was always involved and making thing happen. I can’t tell you how many times she shocked opponents with her sheer effort. It’s hard to beat somebody who never stops,” Terry said. “What made her such an exceptional leader is that she was always the first one ready to go in practice, and she was usually one of the last ones off the field. She always wanted to get extra shots in. If I let her practice for six hours, she would stay there for six hours. She’s one of those kids, and it’s really refreshing. When I was that age, we were always outside, shooting hoops, playing manhunt all hours of the night. I feel like kids don’t do that quite as much, but Rialee has that. She wants to constantly be going and playing sports. Her energy is contagious.”
Terry ran a notoriously tough program, but Allen said that’s what made Ocean City one of the best teams in the state every year. Ocean City was known to run full practices after a playoff WIN, because Terry wasn’t satisfied with the team’s performance.
“There was one game where we beat EHT, but the score was only 3-0, so we had to run about three miles worth of sprints after the game because that wasn’t good enough. We were all disappointed because we felt we could have done better,” Allen said. “It was awful, having to do all that running after playing in a 60-minute game, but that’s what made us the best. That’s what set us apart from our opponents, because we work the hardest and we train the hardest. We gave it all we had, and you couldn’t ask for more from a team.”
Allen will take her talents to the collegiate level this fall, but she’ll always have Red Raider blood pumping through her veins.
“(Graduating) is sad. It’s bittersweet. I really enjoyed my time here at Ocean City and being part of the history of Ocean City, whether it was field hockey or lacrosse — just the history of this school and being able to say that I did go to the school that’s on the beach, met some amazing people and had a great time. It’s surreal, in a way. You don’t want to leave, but at the same time there are bigger and better things out there for you,” Allen said. “I hope these girls are able to keep the tradition going and find it within themselves to keep pushing hard. They are starting a new program, basically, from the bottom up, but if they keep pushing themselves hard and keep training, I think they will do amazing things. I can’t wait to watch them be successful in the future.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays