PEABODY — There’s something about making a state tournament appearance that sparks a fire within a team and motivates it to put forth its best effort. Perhaps that’s the reason behind a phenomenal start this spring for the Bishop Fenwick boys lacrosse team. And it doesn’t hurt that junior attacker Brian Harrington’s having a season to remember.
A Peabody resident and three-year varsity starter, Harrington’s making his case as one of the top attackers in the area. Harrington has scored 31 goals and dished 15 assists in 12 games this season. He leads the Crusaders in goals and points, and is tied for the team lead in assists with freshman Stefano Fabiano.
“It’s pretty cool to see Brian out on the field,” Fenwick coach Stephen Driscoll said. “He has a great offensive sense. He’s always in the right place to be successful but he’s also the quarterback of the offense. We have some younger players alongside him and he’s been a leader. Brian has such a nose for the goal. I’d put him one on one against any defender. He’s going to find a way to get that shot off or find an open teammate.”
Driscoll first noted Harrington’s abilities when the attacker joined the team as a freshman three years ago. Harrington had plenty to learn and improve on but Driscoll knew the potential was there.
“Brian was a freshman my first year coaching the team,” Driscoll said. “I saw something in him and we brought him to the varsity team. He’s almost painfully quiet sometimes but he’s such a sponge because he takes everything in. He craves being coached. He’s always asking how he can get better and how he can get on the field. He’s constantly been a good kid on the team. It’s pretty rare to be able to have a kid at a young age understand ‘it’s bigger than me.'”
Harrington’s stellar play has helped the Crusaders pick up where they left off last season. Fenwick won its final three games of the regular season last spring to qualify for the Division 3 North state tournament. The Crusaders were bounced by Newburyport in the first round but the momentum built during the playoff run has carried over.
The Crusaders are 8-3 this season, two wins away from clinching a repeat trip to states.
“I think we realized that we didn’t want to have to lean on the last three games of the season to get into the tournament,” Harrington, who also plays goalie for Fenwick’s boys soccer team, said. “We wanted to be ready to play and win games early so we can focus on improving and getting ready for the tournament at the end of the season. I think that’s why we came out fiery this year.
“I think we’ve started pretty well,” Harrington added. “We started the first few games learning what we can all do. After we figured things out, things have been great from there.”
Although opposing teams have taken note of Harrington’s talents, that hasn’t limited him. When double-teams come his way, Harrington finds open teammates for solid looks at the net.
“It’s important to get my teammates involved,” Harrington said. “You want the whole team working together. Especially the underclassmen, helping them learn the ropes is important. By the time they’re sophomores and juniors they’ll be really good lacrosse players.”
“Brian’s a huge part of our offense,” Driscoll said. “He’s pumping in goals left and right and what I like to see is that even though teams know he’s our biggest threat, he still finds ways to score.”
Harrington isn’t the only member of his family flourishing on the lacrosse field. His older sister, Merry, recently wrapped up a stellar sophomore season on the women’s lacrosse team at Division II Southern New Hampshire. A midfielder and 2016 Fenwick graduate, Merry scored 25 goals and tallied three assists this spring. She also caused six turnovers and scooped 22 ground balls in 16 games for the Penmen.
“She has taught me a lot about how to be a role model on the field,” Harrington said. “She gives me tips on what I can do better in games. Having that other perspective from my older sibling is really fun.”
As Fenwick approaches the closing stretch of its regular season, there’s still plenty of work left for Harrington and the Crusaders. Fenwick’s goal from here on out is to put forth its best performances in hopes of sending its seniors out on a high note.
“The seniors definitely play a big role on the younger kids,” Harrington said. “This is their last season. That translates to the rest of the team because we want to win for them. We’re all on the same page and we’re all playing good lacrosse.”