Angered Burlace steps out of character Terps co-captain inspires teammates

May 14, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- For a few moments that his Maryland lacrosse teammates will savor forever, Brian Burlace stepped out of character and launched into a tirade.

The burly senior defenseman stormed into the locker room with the Terps trailing Duke, 6-3, at halftime in their first-round NCAA tournament game Saturday night and hurled his helmet in anger. The normally reserved co-captain kicked at shoes in front of his locker, sending them clattering across the floor.

"I had never seen him like that," said Dave Willard, a senior midfielder and also a co-captain. "He was so ticked! He screamed and yelled that his last game wasn't going to be in Byrd Stadium."

Around the room, heads that had been buried in hands popped up. Burlace, affectionately nicknamed "Bubba," was erupting. He kept referring to the Navy game, which the lethargic Terps lost by eight goals.

"He woke people up," Willard said. "Nobody wanted to end the season by playing like we did against Navy. Everybody started getting pumped up."

The Terps awoke, scored 10 second-half goals and beat Duke, 13-11, to advance to Saturday's quarterfinals against Princeton.

"Before we could blink, we were in a huge hole, 0-5 in the first quarter," Burlace said. "I yelled that even though we played our worst half of the year, we were only down by three goals."

Coach Dick Edell was as surprised as the players by Burlace's outburst. The only two-time captain Edell has had in 18 years as a head coach always had led by example, leaving the words to others.

"It was neat to see Bubba seize the moment, like he had grown into the leadership situation," Edell said.

Burlace acquired his nickname as a freshman from Terps goalie Mike McCanna, who was inspired by the size (6 feet 3, 225 pounds) of the defenseman from St. Mary's High in Annapolis.

"I was the biggest guy on the team," Burlace said. "Plus, I $H knocked some guys around in practice. The Bubba nickname stuck."

For two years, Burlace has drawn the opponent's top attackman. Small players, like Towson's 5-9, 160-pound John Blatchley, torment him.

"Blatchley is the best all-around attackman I've faced," Burlace said.

"He does a lot of things so well -- finds the open man, plays on the crease, comes up with ground balls."

By the same token, Edell looks upon Burlace as a many-faceted defenseman.

"I've never seen a defenseman do so many things -- play close defense, play defensive midfield, clear the ball like a midfielder," Edell said. "He shoots as hard as anyone on the team. What's he have this season, five goals?"

During Burlace's tenure here, Maryland has advanced to the Final Four twice. He is intent on disposing of third-seeded Princeton and making it three times.

"If we play like we have the last month -- except for that first half bTC against Duke -- we can beat anyone in the country," Burlace said.

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