Home / Departments / Community / Coach Riley McNeal

Coach Riley McNeal

EHS Lacrosse Team Wins State

By Andrew Coussens

Riley McNeal, the coach of the Eagle High School Men’s Varsity Lacrosse team, accepted the position of defensive coordinator in 2014.  It was a decision that would prove to be immediately fortuitous as the team went to the State Championships that year, losing in a double overtime clincher.   McNeal was worried the following years wouldn’t prove as fruitful, with many of the players moving on to compete on D1-D3 college teams.  The team’s formula seemed straightforward enough, however: foster a heavy work ethic with an emphasis on teamwork and determination. 

“They were taught to treat every game like it was the championship.”  McNeal said.

This meant that despite a change in the roster or the movement of seniors out of the league wouldn’t mean an end to their winning streaks. The team has its share of challenges. For instance, the team isn’t funded by the high school, often requiring donations and fund raisers to pay for team jerseys and even the paint required to mark the playing field. Additionally, many of Eagle Lacrosse’ competitors are the teams they face in the championships.  Case in point, The Mountain View High School team routed Eagle’s attempts in 2017 to win the State Championship, although making it that far truly marks the team’s ability level and commitment. 

McNeal was tapped to be head coach in 2019, right after the team lost 14 senior players the year before.  With many of their seasoned members gone, the team had to face the fact that they were running young and heading into the season with eight freshman, seven sophomores, six juniors, and only two remaining seniors on the roster.  One positive note was the addition of Alan Morgan, a new offensive coach who was formerly with the Mountain View team, one of their main rivals.  Morgan’s experience would help shore up the challenges that lie ahead. 

The team would fall back on it’s principals of grooming the younger players to be a successful part of the team as a whole and put in the work.  Early losses to rivals like Bishop Kelly and Mountain View were only concerning because McNeal anticipated the team to click, which it did midseason.  In the semi-finals, Eagle boasted two victories over Mountain View, adopting new strategies and scoring the winning goal with just four seconds left in the game.

The championship game against Boise High School fared much better with an early 10 to 3 lead.  Although several of their attack players succumbed to game ending injuries, shuffling up their positions the second half of the game lead them to be successful in scoring another three goals for a final score of 13 to 6, and finally, the championship they had been waiting to earn since McNeal’s tenure began five years earlier.