"Never in my wildest dream did I think my son would be one of the team captains when Maryland finally did win again," Manis said. "I can't even express in words what it felt like. I get emotional just talking about. To see my son out on the field helping the team to victory and being surrounded by my former teammates was a moment I will never forget."
The younger Nick Manis grew up on Maryland lacrosse folklore, going to games at Byrd Stadium with his father and hearing about the good old days from Lamon, Phipps and numerous other former players.
Having been part of teams that lost in the 2015 and 2016 championship games, Manis returned to school as a fifth-year senior in hopes of helping the Terps get over the hump. On Memorial Day in Foxborough, Mass., the Severn School product saw significant action as a short stick defensive midfielder as Maryland beat Ohio State, 9-6, in the 2017 final.
"It's just an incredible feeling to bring the trophy back to College Park," said Manis, who also played man-down defense with a long stick throughout this season. "It feels good to get this done for the program. This championship is for every player that ever put on a Maryland uniform. It's been a long time coming and it's great to know that no other Maryland player will have to hear about the drought anymore."
Legendary midfielder Frank "The Crank" Urso scored five goals as Maryland handled Navy, 20-13, in the 1975 national championship game. That was the second title in three years for the Terps, who were coached by Hall of Famer Clayton "Buddy" Beardmore during that golden era.
Beardmore, a Severna Park resident, recruited heavily from his home turf and the 1975 squad was loaded with Anne Arundel County talent as a result. Defenseman Gary Bethmann (Wroxeter) was named third team All-American that year and led a contingent of 11 county products on the roster.
Other locals that hoisted the championship trophy that year were Jim Bell (Wroxeter), Bob Brenton (Glen Burnie), Jimmy Burnett (Severna Park), Gary Glatzel (Severna Park), Tony Morgan (Wroxeter), Eddie Mullen (St. Mary's), Bert Olson (Annapolis), Andre Pantelides (Annapolis), Lynne Wellander (Wroxeter) and Wilson Phipps (Severn).
Phipps, a goalie and defenseman who played at Maryland from 1975-79, said a ton of alumni dating back to the previous two championship teams was in attendance at Gillette Stadium to watch the program return to the mountaintop.
"It was surreal to see it happen. I had goosebumps," said Phipps, whose sons Michael and Brian also played for the Terrapins. "Tears were flowing and guys were hugging. It was a bigger thrill than it was back in 1975."
Eddie Mullen remains one of the most iconic figures in Maryland lacrosse history, a three-time All-American who still ranks eighth on the school's all-time points list. The lifelong Annapolis resident, who scored seven goals against Navy in the 1976 semifinals, watched this year's championship from the comfort of his home "with some tasty crab dip, a big submarine sandwich and a few cold ones."
"Maryland played with tremendous heart and was just so damn determined. It made me so proud to be a Terp," Mullen said.
Mullen has found a way to get to the stadium whenever Maryland has reached the championship game in years past. He drove to Philadelphia in 2015 and 2016 and addressed the team prior to the 2015 and 2016 finals, which the Terps dropped.
"The moral of the story is that I'm not allowed to go to the finals or talk to the team anymore," Mullen said. "I'm just so happy for the program that this talk of the curse is over. There was never any monkey on the back of Maryland lacrosse, but the media and everyone else tried to put it there."
Beardmore coined the phrase "Be the Best" during his highly successful 11-year tenure (1970-1980), which saw him compile a 107-31 record. That remained the motto for the Terrapins under two other outstanding head coaches — Dick Edell and Dave Cottle, neither of whom could get the Terps to the pinnacle.
Brian Burlace played for Edell from 1989-1992 and was a starting defenseman on two Terps teams that lost in the semifinals. The St. Mary's High graduate, who received the Schmeisser Award as the nation's best defenseman as a senior, did not hear nonstop about the 1975 team.
"I don't remember it being a big issue when I was playing," Burlace said. "I remember hearing about the 1987 team that kind of let one get away. Other than that, no one really talked about how long it had been since Maryland won a national championship."
First team All-American goalie Jimmy Beardmore, son of the former head coach, was one of many stars of the 1987 squad that was ranked No. 1 the entire season. That club blew out all comers in going undefeated during the regular season, but got upset in the semifinals by a Johns Hopkins outfit it had beaten just one month before.
Rob Chomo, an All-American attackman who still ranks fifth in Maryland history in career assists, does recall such chatter. In 1995, Maryland upset top-seeded Johns Hopkins in the semifinals before falling to Syracuse
in the championship. Those Terrapins, led by goalie Brian Dougherty and defenseman Dan Radebaugh, were not even ranked in the preseason and overachieved.
"There was some talk about 1975 when we went to the finals because it was now 20 years down the road and the alums were still waiting for another championship," Chomo said.
Chomo, a St. Mary's grad who moved from Annapolis to Naples, Florida few years ago, watched Monday's game with his family.
"There is always a great sense of pride about being a former Maryland lacrosse player," Chomo said. "I'm sure anyone who ever put on that jersey found time to catch that game wherever they happened to be."
No one is quite sure when talk of "the drought" began, but it may have been after Maryland lost in the finals three times in the span of four years (1995, 1997, 1998).
"If you went back and looked at all the times Maryland lost in the finals and semifinals, I bet you would find that most of those teams were not the top seed," the elder Nick Manis said. "I know for a fact there were a lot of years when Maryland made the championship and it was totally unexpected. That being said, it does start to wear on everyone's minds after a while."
Manis believes head coach John Tillman
succeeded in getting the players to not worry about the past and only focus on the present. Tillman, who has led the Terps to the finals in five of his seven seasons at the helm, told his troops to play for themselves.
"I think in the past few years, the players began to realize they couldn't carry 42 years of pressure," Manis said. "What John Tillman has accomplished during his tenure is amazing in this day and age. Coach Tillman has continued to put the program in position to win a championship and this year everything came together and the Terps broke through."
Burlace cut short a family vacation to the Grand Canyon in order to fly to Boston along with his three sons. BJ Burlace, a sophomore at St. Mary's High, has already committed to play lacrosse at Maryland. All three Burlace boys are fans of the younger Nick Manis, who coached them in the summertime.
Burlace has dropped everything to attend the championship game in previous years that Maryland advanced that far and has come away disappointed.
"There were some years that I thought for sure Maryland would win and didn't. There have been some bizarre losses in the championship game that make you wonder 'how is this happening?' It's been frustrating for sure," Burlace said. "Coach Tillman has been doing all the right things and has built a very solid, consistent program. It was kind of a case where if you keep knocking on the door, it's eventually going to open."