Brotherly love apparently has its limits.
In a typical week, Nick Mirabito, a senior attackman for the Navy men's lacrosse team, and Ricky Mirabito, a sophomore attackman for Georgetown, will call each other two or three times to discuss lacrosse, classes and family.
But in the week leading up to today's 5 p.m. showdown between the No. 3 Midshipmen and the No. 7 Hoyas at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, the brothers from Binghamton, N.Y., have talked just once.
"I talked with him Monday just to decide who's going to give tickets to who for the game," Ricky said, alluding to the planned attendance of his parents and other family members. "Other than that, no communication."
Today's meeting between the Mirabito brothers is just part of a larger highly anticipated clash between Navy (8-1) and Georgetown (4-2). The Midshipmen have won six games in a row, but the Hoyas - who have won the past four meetings between the teams - are riding the momentum of knocking off then-No. 1 Duke, 11-7, a week ago.
This will be the first time that Nick, 22, and Ricky Mirabito, 20, will play as opponents. Through youth leagues and Chenango Forks High School, the brothers have always been on the same side.
"It's tough because you want your brother to do well, and you want him to succeed," Nick said. "But when he's playing us, you don't want him to do too well where they beat us. It's just mixed emotions."
Added Ricky: "Being the younger brother, I always looked up to him watching him play. I always enjoyed playing with him, but honestly, it'll be really different seeing him playing on the opposing team."
Despite being separated by almost three years, the brothers have always been close.
When Nick took up lacrosse, basketball and football at Chenango Forks, so did Ricky. Both were point guards in basketball and although Ricky experimented with defense and midfield, he eventually migrated to attack like his older brother.
But as brothers do, Nick and Ricky butted heads in basketball, in Wiffle ball, in pingpong. Nick recalled his mother, Norma Jean, taking away the video game controllers because the brothers could not finish a game without ending it with shouts or fists.
"Most of the time, that was my fault," Ricky admitted. "If I was winning, I was talking trash to him or if I was losing, I was getting mad. So at some point, she'd come down and take everything away."
While Nick opted to attend Navy, his younger brother chose Georgetown over Navy and Cornell. While Ricky said he chose to go with the Hoyas because of academics, he also acknowledged not being excited about the obligations of attending a military academy.
Because the Mirabito brothers both play attack, they will not tangle with each other on the field today. But the emotion of the moment could be difficult for their parents, who plan to sit at midfield with specially crafted jerseys with Nick's number on the front and Ricky's number on the back.
"It's tough enough when you're going just to watch one of them play, and it's your son out there performing," said Richard Mirabito, a fuel company vice president.
"I'm just hoping that they play well, they don't make too many mistakes, and the best team that plays the best wins. That's all you can really hope for.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing for them."
Both Nick and Ricky said they will shake hands and hug each other after the game. But until then, the silence will continue.
"Any other day of the year, I'm his biggest fan, but for this week, not so much," Nick said.
Added Ricky: "I just want to win. He can do whatever he wants as long as we win."