The Maui News 2019 MIL Girls Water Polo All-Stars

Donohue looks to future: Bears junior helped lead young team to third straight MIL title, has sights set on next season

Baldwin High School’s Jacsen Donohue had 32 goals in 14 matches this year, including eight in three state matches as she helped the Bears finish in sixth place. The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo

After learning from an impressive senior class last season, the Baldwin High School girls water polo team has a current crop of juniors who are ready to make noise next season.

The Bears will be led by Jacsen Donohue, who finished second in Maui Interscholastic League scoring with 32 goals on the season, and classmates Jessica Baker, Audrey Reiss, Kristi Kimura and Savannah Dougherty.

All are first- or second-team All-Stars as selected by the league’s coaches — Donohue is the choice as The Maui News MIL Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of two-time winner Rebecca Buenrostro-Gallimore.

“It’s crazy,” Donohue said. “It’s very inspiring for myself, it kind of drives me more to try even harder next year and become an even better player. If I’m already considered by people to be player of the year, it’s just, it’s crazy.”

Donohue is joined on the first team by Baker, Reiss, Lahainaluna’s Brooke Whitehead and Dakota Delos Reyes, Seabury Hall’s Bella Otterson and King Kekaulike’s Kiana Correa.

King Kekaulike’s Ryan Lehman is the choice of his peers as MIL Coach of the Year after leading Na Alii to their first-ever state tournament appearance.

Buenrostro-Gallimore shared The Maui News MIL Girl Athlete of the Year award last season and just finished a redshirt season as a member of the nationally ranked University of Hawaii team. She clearly left an impression on Donohue.

“Playing with Rebecca made me realize how many different aspects of water polo are essential to the game,” Donohue said. “You need to have the speed, the dedication, and the water polo skill in general to be the best player you can and she really showed that.”

The Bears reloaded from last season’s third-place team at state — the best finish ever for an MIL team — with six incoming freshmen. Baldwin is unbeaten in the league for the last three seasons and rolled into the state tournament with an overall 26-2 record.

After drawing the No. 3 seed, Baldwin lost a hard-fought 12-8 decision to Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up Kamehameha Kapalama in the quarterfinals on the way to a sixth-place finish. The ILH owns all 16 state titles and 28 of 32 state finals berths in tournament history.

“Especially with six incoming freshmen, I just tried to stay positive throughout the entire year,” Donohue said. “Make sure we had incoming players who knew how to play the game and who enjoy the game.”

Reiss and Baker know the Bears could be loaded next season, trying to make a run at breaking through the ILH brick wall at state.

“I think with our results this year and in the past, being blocked out by the ILH has really been an obstacle that we need to come together as a team to achieve and get past,” Reiss said. “I think that how we placed this year gives us all the reason to come back next season, train even harder than we did and just go at it … at 100 or 110 percent to really enhance our performance and see the best results we can get.”

Said Baker: “I think there’s a lot more locking in everything. I mean this year we focused on making not a lot of mistakes, but I really feel like we need to practice more 100 percent in the whole team together.”

Otterson led the MIL with 36 goals in 13 matches, according to statistics provided by MIL scorekeeper Dave Wintermeyer that included MIL regular season, tournament and state tournament play.

Donohue had 32 goals in 14 matches, including eight in three state matches. Unofficially, she also led the team in assists, a stat that was not consistently recorded.

“It’s great, Jacsen and I have been playing together for many, many years, since about 8th grade, and I swam with her for a few more years than that,” said Baker, who finished with 29 goals. “It’s a good partner to have because she’s on the opposite side of the pool, so I know I can trust her. I mean I trust all the other players, but having Jacsen — I look at her on the other side — and I know it’s, like, it’s just a connection.

“She’s very important in the water and she’s very helpful.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Second Team

School Year

Madi Eiting, Seabury Hall, Junior

Montana DiSegna, King Kekaulike, Junior

Savannah Dougherty, Baldwin, Junior

Jade Coulter, Maui High, Senior

Kylie Robinson, Maui High, Junior

Taitum Jones, King Kekaulike, Senior

Kristi Kimura, Baldwin, Junior

Honorable Mention

Baldwin–Taryn Sato; Kamehameha Maui–Liana Vasconcellos, Logan Spencer; King Kekaulike–Louisa Buckingham; Lahainaluna–Hailey Bogar; Maui High–Caroline Short; Seabury Hall–Aryana Johnson.