Touchdown Club honors national champion Maryland lacrosse team

azielonka@baltsun.com

The finest stars in local lacrosse — high school and collegiate, past and present — came together to celebrate Thursday night when the Touchdown Club of Annapolis held its annual Lacrosse Cookout and Awards Ceremony at Naval-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The University of Maryland men's lacrosse team, two months removed from the program's first NCAA national championship in 42 years, was honored with the club's Henry Ciccarone Jr. Memorial Collegiate Team of the Year Award. The award goes to one college lacrosse team in the state each year.

Eight members of the 1975 Maryland team, the program's last title-winning squad, were on hand in Annapolis. Steve Beardmore, son of the late Maryland head coach Buddy Beardmore, presented current Terrapins head coach John Tillman with the award in a symbolic "passing of the torch" moment.

"It's all about the players today, not about us," said Wilson Phipps, a member of the 1975 team. "The '75 team is thrilled that they won it. We've been waiting for it forever."

Though personal humility abounded among the 1975 team, there was certainly "Terps pride" when it came to celebrating the program.

"Buddy Beardmore gave us a slogan: 'Be the best,'" said Andre "Butch" Pantelides, another 1975 team member. "We all carry that on, we all do it in our own corporate life, our personal lives, and I think it really sunk into these guys (the 2017 team) what it means to go that extra fourth quarter and be the best."

Tillman mentioned the slogan when he addressed the crowd.

"We've always bought into 'Be the best,' which was started by Coach Beardmore, and we've really embraced it — I know our alums have," said Tillman, a former assistant coach for Navy. "It's something our kids say all the time, but they really aspire to be the best, and they're willing to do the things they need to do to be the best."

The Severna Park High School boys and girls teams won their respective High School Team of the Year awards Thursday. The Falcons' boys team, led by head coach Dave Earl, capped off a 20-0 season with a Class 4A/3A state championship victory this spring.

"What an honor it is to be honored at the same time as the legendary class of 1975 at University of Maryland, and this year's team, the national champions," Earl said.

The girls team went 17-3 in 2017, won the county championship and came within a goal of the state title, losing a competitive title game 10-9 to Bel Air.

"I could not have done this without my coaches and without this group of girls," said Kaitlyn Hines, girls head coach at Severna Park. "They worked their butts off day in, day out, and they deserve this hands down over anybody else."

As per tradition, the Touchdown Club partnered with the Chesapeake Bayhawks to hold this ceremony before a Bayhawks home game. High school, collegiate and professional lacrosse intersected in more ways than one: The Falcons teams were honored on the field during pregame and the Terps were honored during halftime.

Moreover, the four captains of the 2017 Maryland team played in the Major League Lacrosse game that got started at 7:30. Colin Heacock, Isaiah Davis-Allen and Nick Manis now suit up for the Bayhawks, and Tim Mueller plays for the visiting Florida Launch.

Manis' father, also named Nick, played for Maryland in 1975, adding another personal wrinkle to the story for him and his family.

"I really can't explain the feeling," the elder Manis said. "I never thought it would take us 42 years (to win another national title), and I never ever thought (my son) would be the captain of the team that won it."

His son graduated Severn School before attending Maryland. With multiple generations of his family weaved into the county and state lacrosse community, he reflected on how the sport has developed since the 1970s.

"Just the growth of it, the amount of teams that play it from youth leagues. It's girls and guys," Manis said. "It's unbelievable to me having these youth teams that travel. They travel all over the country. When I played growing up, the only youth teams were right here in Anne Arundel County. The farthest I went was Pasadena."

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