Before they became four-year starters on St. Thomas Aquinas’ lacrosse team, won a state title last year and teammed up to become the state’s most prolific goal-scoring duo as seniors this spring, it was hate at first sight for Jimmy Harrington and Kevin Crowley.
When Harrington, a Notre Dame football fan, and Crowley, a Miami Hurricanes fan, first met as seven-year olds – when their parents went out to dinner together as friendly neighbors in Parkland – hanging out felt like punishment.
“That’s how it started,” Crowley said last Friday night after he, Harrington and the Raiders (20-1) clinched a trip back to the state championships in Jupiter this weekend. “We were at dinner at Pasquale’s, talking about college football and we just bashed heads for about two hours.”
“Then after that,” Harrington cuts in, “we just became best friends, and we’ve been brothers since then.”
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The kind of brothers who finish each other’s sentences, know exactly what the other is going to order off the menu at Chipotle, and who can share plenty of funny stories – like the time they stayed up until 3 a.m. as a fifth-graders filming each other ‘Jerk dancing’ to try and impress some girls before they were caught by Harrington’s mother.
“We were eating Cheez-its,” Harrington said laughing. “I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I see a box of Cheez-its.”
What happens this weekend in Jupiter, both hope, will be a lasting memory, too.
The Raiders (20-1) will take on North Palm Beach Benjamin (19-3) at 5 p.m. Friday in a rematch of last year’s heart-pounding state semifinal, which Aquinas won 11-10 in triple overtime on its way to its first lacrosse state title. The winner advances to take on either Lake Mary (16-5) or Lake Highland Prep (16-6) in Saturday night’s title game.
Either way, this weekend is the last time Crowley (61 goals, 31 assists) and Harrington (67 goals, 15 assists) will be teammates – something they’ve been since they were seven. This fall, Crowley is headed to play for Hofstra and Harrington is headed to Furman.
“I say it all the time, Jimmy is probably the closest thing Kevin has to a brother without being brothers,” said Aquinas coach Terry Crowley, Kevin’s father and Jimmy’s coach for a long, long time.
“I remember when they were like 10, 11 years old, running around in the backyard saying you do this and you do this and it all comes to fruition here. It’s been kind of cool to watch.”
The Crowleys and Harringtons have been at this for awhile actually.
Terry was one of the founders of the Coral Springs Tomahawks Lacrosse Club in 1992 and of the Parkland Redhawks Lacrosse Recreational League in 2006. Terry won his 400th career match this season and his son J.P., who played at Aquinas, is a sophomore at Towson.
Harrington is one of four boys to play lacrosse for Terry at Aquinas. Harrington’s older brother Burke played four years at Washington College.
But the chemistry and accomplishments the last two Crowley and Harrington boys have achieved is on another level. In last Friday’s regional final victory over Gulliver Prep, Crowley and Harrington teammed up for four goals in a span of 3 minutes and 30 seconds and quickly turned a 4-2 Aquinas lead into an 8-2 Raiders lead at the half.
“This is what we were talking about in the third grade when our older brothers were playing and his Dad was coaching,” Harrington said of the chemistry he and Kevin built. “I know to get out of the way when he's dodging. He knows to look for me when I'm cutting. We were saying this is going to be us one day. It’s awesome that it’s actually happening now. We’ve just got to leave our legacy and make it count, these last two games.”
Said Crowley: “Our freshman year, when we first made it to state, we were really happy to be there and everything. But we’ve learned through losing you can’t be happy to just be there anymore. It’s like a mission. And now that we’ve played this through our minds so many times we need to take advantage of it. It’s right in front of us now. It’s our legacy to leave behind.”
FHSAA LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Where: Jupiter High, 500 North Military Trail.
Schedule - Friday - Girls semifinals: St. Thomas Aquinas (18-1) vs. Naples Barron Collier (19-1), noon; Ponte Vedra (13-4) vs. Orlando Bishop Moore (17-4), 2 p.m. Boys semifinals: St. Thomas Aquinas (20-1) vs. North Palm Beach Benjamin (16-3), 5 p.m.; Lake Mary (16-5) vs. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (16-6), 7 p.m. Saturday - Girls final: 4 p.m. Boys final: 7 p.m.