BOSTON – A man is no body without it's spine, and last night Hingham was no state champion without it's goaltender.
Tied at two against Arlington Catholic early in the third period the Harbormen was assaulted by AC's attack. In their place stepped Matt Personeni. The junior keeper turned aside 29 shots, including 14 in the third period, to keep Hingham in the game.
Personeni's theatrics in cage paid off when Marshall Terres netted the game-winner with just 81 seconds left in the game.
“Matt Personeni I think is one of the best goalies in the state, and he brings it every single game,” Hingham junior Billy McNally said. “Every single practice he's the first goalie on the ice; he's always taking practice shots. I thought he played unbelievable and deserved the win.”
Arlington Catholic dominated play in the third period. Bolstered by a goal late in the second period, the Cougar attack, led by Ryan Tierney and Andy Somerville, swarmed the Hingham cage for much of the final 12 minutes.
Personeni had to stretch from post to post and back again to keep Hingham from falling behind. Personeni stuffed Jack Rogers twice in the third and snuffed out a sure-fire goal on a 2-on-1 late in the period. He also put himself in tight spots to freeze pucks and force faceoffs.
“He's crazy,” Hingham captain Mike Saleski said. “The amount of saves that he had, those were Sportscenter Top 10 saves he had. I can't believe he did that.”
Personeni split much of the season with fellow junior Andrew Ehler. Personeni got the final nod as the tournament progressed. It paid of in full when he shut out Xaverian to win D1 south and then again last night on Causeway Street.
“I just tried not to get my head too big,” Personeni said. “Not take anything for granted. It's been kind of crazy, especially in school. I think the fans really help. After we didn't get into the super 8 we just played our own game.”
Hingham coach Tony Messina said that giving Personeni the keys to the cage was a no-brainer, especially as Hingham started making a significant run through the South.
“He was great,” Messina said. “He played all the games but one. He did a great job tonight, obviously. Key saves tonight in the third, but all year long he'd come up with the save when we needed it. He had a little momentum going. He was stepping up all the time. I think the team was confident in either goalie, but Matt was the one that we chose.”
Having a goalie between the pipes who is standing on his head only lifts his team's confidence. McNally said as much, and that having a goalie perform like Personeni did forces him to up his own game.
“It just makes me want to work harder to back him up,” McNally said. “The kid deserves the win, honestly. He was the best player on the ice today. He motivates. He's a leader.”