When’s the last time a newspaper story about sports caused people to put down their morning coffee and burst into tears? Or applaud the columnist – and subject – with a virtual standing ovation? Readers of a Boston Globe column did both last week. What caused the tears and applause? Not a death-defying feat of physical strength, or a landmark win during NCAA March Madness (is there any other sport besides basketball happening right now?), but a simple story about high school girls playing hockey and displaying great sportsmanship.
It was the end of a 100-game winning streak for St. Mary’s, which writer Kevin Cullen calls “the gold standard for high school girls hockey in Massachusetts.” The “barn-burner” Division 1 quarterfinal game ended with a victorious Hingham High girls squad in a scene he describes as cinematic; the Hingham sophomore, Jane Freda, who’d tied the game to go into overtime, “whisked down ice on a breakaway. If it were a movie, it would have been filmed in slow-motion, with a Rocky-like soundtrack, trumpets blaring. Freda deked just enough to get St. Mary’s goalie Sarah Foss to open her pads ever so slightly and the winning goal slid between and into the back of the net.”
But the real win, he says, happened after the game, when the Hingham girls, who had continually lost against St. Mary’s, could have thrown themselves into a well-deserved “pig pile” on the ice or whooped it up in the parking lot. But they didn’t.
And they got what most people would call the biggest payoff of the night, when St. Mary’s captain Sabrina Iannetti boarded their bus to congratulate them. “That was a great game,” she said. “If anyone was going to beat us, we’re glad it was you. We respect you all so much.’’
Cullen added that St. Mary’s would be cheering for Hingham in the semifinals (which they won three days later), and would see them all the way through the finals, which they won last Sunday. As Hingham coach Tom Findlay told the Hingham Journal after the semifinal game, “Sometimes the good guy does win. They’re good kids.”
To us, it looks like everybody had a win. Well done, girls.