When the Charlotte Country Day girls' lacrosse season ends this year, it probably will be the last time seniors Francie Mangan and Stevie Thomas will play on the same team.
They're doing everything they can to make sure that last game ends in another state championship.
Mangan and Thomas, both 18, met in first grade at Charlotte Country Day. They've been best friends since.
In middle school, the two played basketball for Country Day. They started playing field hockey in seventh grade. In high school, they quit basketball - though they still play in a recreation league - and took up lacrosse.
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Playing sports together has only made their bond stronger.
"It's just something we both love and love doing together," said Mangan.
With the hectic schedule of senior year, practice sometimes is the only time the friends see each other.
"It keeps us close," said Thomas. "We get to see each other every day. ... We have completely different schedules during the day. Lacrosse is the time we get to see each other and hang out besides the weekends. We get to catch up at lacrosse practice and field hockey in the fall."
Mangan and Thomas are both defenders for the field hockey team: Mangan was a three-year varsity player and all-conference as a junior, and Thomas was on varsity for two years.
On the lacrosse team, Mangan is a three-year varsity midfielder with an impressive wingspan at 5-foot-10.
"Her eye-hand coordination is incredible," said lacrosse coach Ed Burnam. "She picks the ball out of nowhere."
Mangan is also one of the team's top scorers with 31 goals and nine assists. She was named all-conference her sophomore, junior and senior years and all-state as a junior.
Thomas is a two-year varsity defender on the lacrosse team and worked her way from the bench to the starting lineup by the end of last year. Burnam said Thomas, at 5-foot-8, is an aggressive and tough defender, something she gets from field hockey.
She's scooped up 3.23 ground balls a game and forced 16 turnovers this year. She also was named all-conference this year.
Mangan and Thomas' friendship off the field has helped their ability to play on the field. "I know her weaknesses and her strengths, so I can criticize her or complement her or help her out," said Thomas. "We know we're not going to cross the line because we're both such good friends."
As juniors, the two had a perfect year. In the fall they helped the Buccaneers win the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association field hockey title 1-0 against Charlotte Latin, a team they lost to twice in the regular season.
In the spring, they helped Country Day win its first NCISAA lacrosse title, 14-12 against Ravenscroft.
"I think the best thing about both games is that we were playing two immensely competitive teams," said Mangan. "They were great competitors and I really enjoyed it."
This year won't be perfect, as the Bucs lost in the semifinals of the field hockey tournament, but Country Day looks strong heading into the lacrosse championship, which starts May 17.
The Bucs are 11-4 overall and 8-0 in the conference. Their only losses have come to public school powers - Charlotte Catholic and Wilmington Hoggard - and out-of-state teams - Lassiter, Ga., and Fort Mill, S.C. Country Day hasn't lost to an NCISAA team since a playoff loss to Durham Academy in 2009.
Winning a second-straight lacrosse title would be the perfect way to end Mangan and Thomas' high school careers.
"I just think it would be another great, fun thing to celebrate all of our hard work," said Mangan. "It would be a great way to top off our senior year."
In fall, Mangan will go to UNC Chapel Hill and Thomas will go to the University of South Carolina. They'll call each other and talk online and, if they have time, play club sports at their schools; but they both know it won't be the same as high school.
"After this year it will never be the same," said Thomas. "You'll never play on a team like a high school team, so it's sad, but it's been an amazing experience."