With a water polo ball held high in her right hand, Lake Forest High School senior Grace Donahue backstrokes her way toward an anxious goalie with her left arm.
What the goalie must be thinking, as Donahue — a two-time team MVP and two-time all-North Suburban Conference selectee — motors in from a wing spot in a pool: When is Donahue going to stop? When is Donahue going to turn? When is Donahue going to fire a shot?
“It confuses the goalie,” Scouts senior Catherine PompeVanMeerderVoort said after a playoff game last weekend.
Donahue, a Lake Bluff resident and the Scouts’ leading scorer this spring, entertained spectators with the creative move a handful of times in third-seeded Lake Forest’s 10-5 loss to second-seeded Mundelein in a Deerfield Sectional semifinal on May 12.
It deserved style points, even when the shot did not result in a goal.
“One of her favorite moves; she loves doing that,” Scouts coach Jessica Goldner said of the 5-foot-7 Donahue, who intends to sign up for club water polo and club swimming at Tulane University. “Her speed and her understanding of the game — those are two of her strengths. I like her pool vision, too, and what was nice to see from her this year was her ball control.
“This year she played with many teammates who are not as experienced as she is, and she showed patience,” the coach added.
It’s a trait teachers must have.
Donahue — a niece and cousin of teachers — has thought seriously about pursuing the field of teaching since way back in her kindergarten days.
“I’d like to teach or maybe work with kids in another capacity,” said Donahue, who scored three goals and assisted on the team’s two other tallies in her final prep water polo game. “My aunt and my cousin, they’re cool to me. I taught Spanish to children in Peru last summer, during a service trip. I loved that. I love volunteering in general. Our group also built a [water] pipeline for the villagers down there.”
Donahue’s sense of humor?
It could easily sustain a city of dwellers thirsty for a good laugh.
Upon learning a certainly weekly publication wanted to run Grace Anne Donahue’s life story, Donahue — a swim team member and a poloist since her freshman year — flashed a pool-wide smile and blurted, “Really? Are you serious? Then let’s start at the beginning, OK? I was born on … .
“One of my memories from that first day, in 1999?” she added. “Oh, sure, I remember. It was a day full of bright sunshine … No, I’m kidding.”
She smiled. Hard.
Then she laughed. Loudly.
She’s as animated out of the pool as she is in chlorinated water.
“She’s funny, always excited about something, always willing to encourage her teammates,” Scouts senior Allison Majka said. “What she liked to yell, during games, was, ‘Zero-zero!’ She usually shouted that when the other team scored. It was her way of saying, ‘OK, let’s start over.’ She wanted us to stay positive, no matter what the score was.”
Donahue scored a few dramatic goals this spring, none bigger than the one that stunned Libertyville as time expired in a Lake Forest win. The shot from Donahue — or “Donny”, to her friends and teammates and coaches — traveled more than half the length of the pool. Her second goal in the playoff loss to Mundelein came with only two-tenths of a second remaining in the first half. The lengthy assist came from junior goalie Amalia Liguori-Coneff, who made several magnificent saves against the Mustangs.
“Grace plays everywhere for us, does everything for us,” Goldner said of her super utility Scout before the start of the sectional semifinal last weekend. “Loves to compete, loves to win. Pumps everybody up with here energy, and she plays all four quarters.
“I asked her once, during a game, ‘Need a break?’ She replied with a quick ‘No.’ ”
To the surprise of nobody.
Notable: Lake Forest High School seniors Catherine PompeVanMeerderVoort and Allison Majka each scored a goal in the Scouts’ 10-5 loss to Mundelein’s Mustangs in a Deerfield Sectional semifinal on May 12. Mundelein scored the last goal of the first quarter and the first three goals of the second frame to take a 6-2 lead. Scouts junior goalie Amalia Liguori-Coneff blanked Mundelein in the fourth quarter. Scouts senior standout Grace Donahue collected the final steal of her prep career with six seconds left in the fourth quarter. LFHS, which finished with a 9-18 record (2-2 in the North Suburban Conference), had lost 14-7 to Mundelein in the regular season. … All three of Lake Forest’s senior water polo players — PompeVanMeerderVoort, Majka and Donahue — earned a starting nod at the beginning of the 2016 season. … Name game: Sophomore Isabella Watters is a member of Lake Forest’s varsity water polo team.