Leaving pool tough for Navy's Donahue

But water polo veteran can take solace in Mids' advance to '03 final four



December 12, 2003|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Joe Donahue never has had much glory or recognition outside the Naval Academy during a highly successful, four-year water polo career.

Not that it mattered that much to Donahue, a Navy senior.

The St. Mary's High grad has played the sport at a high level for nearly 11 years simply because he loves it.

"I have played every day and I'm going to miss the sport," he said during a brief break from exams. "I'll never be at this level again."

That's why it was so hard for Donahue to accept the Mids' fate of back-to-back losses in the NCAA water polo final four last weekend at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

No. 11 Navy entered the final four as a decided underdog in a field that included No. 1 Southern California, No. 2 Stanford, and No. 7 Loyola Marymount.

But that didn't faze the Mids. They weren't even supposed to be in the final four. That honor was supposed to go to Princeton, which was top-seeded and favored to beat Navy in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Eastern Division championship game and take the league's automatic bid to the NCAA semifinals.

However, the Mids led all the way in earning an 8-6 victory and a berth in the final four.

Navy had to face top seed Southern California first in Palo Alto and kept the match close in the first half (down 3-1) before the Trojans pulled away for a 10-6 victory.

Donahue said: "We didn't take advantage of man-up opportunities in that game, and then in the consolation against Loyola Marymount [10-7 loss] we had an off day."

Navy junior Patrick Rollo scored two goals in the loss to USC, and Donahue led the way with three goals in his final collegiate game against Loyola Marymount.

Navy goalie Patrick McCreary (Broadneck) made five blocks and had four steals in the loss to the Trojans, and Bill Miante (Broadneck) and Michael Suriano (Annapolis) each scored a goal. Joseph Smutz (Loyola) scored a goal in the consolation-game loss.

After Loyola Marymount had ended Navy's season (25-8) and Donahue's career, he said, "It won't hit me for a couple of days or even weeks. It probably won't until after we get back from the Christmas break and we don't have to go to practice. We appreciate what each other has gone through the last couple of years."

Morgan's Massey picked

Morgan State senior defensive back Sam Massey has been selected to play in The Villages Gridiron Classic Jan. 31 in Villages, Fla.

The game will be played at noon at The Villages Polo Stadium and is scheduled to be televised by ESPN.

"We are extremely proud and excited to have one of our own selected to such a highly regarded game," said Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley.

During the first five years of the college all-star game, 109 alumni have been drafted by the NFL while 225 players have signed NFL contracts as free agents.

The game has also raised more than $750,000 for such charities as the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, The Rotary Foundation and the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation.

Funk sails past 300

Johns Hopkins women's basketball coach Nancy Funk ran her record to 301-139 in 18 seasons Tuesday night with a 67-47 victory over Swarthmore.

Funk reached the 300 milestone last Wednesday against Gettysburg with a 65-59 decision.

She has guided the Blue Jays to 15 straight regular-season victories, four Centennial Conference championships and seven trips to the NCAA tournament.

Et cetera

The Johns Hopkins Olympic Taekwondo team has captured the collegiate nationals one year after the team was founded. Members of the team were Tristen Chun, Chris Acosta, Jessica Treidl, Brittany Lin, Amy Kjose, Eliz Konat, Rifat Chowdhury, Shirley Chen, Alex Kramer, Jessica Bregar, John Fischer, Carol Yang, Daniel Paulson, Weibin Liu and Dave Marvin. The coaches were Joseph Pirczhalski and Yong Seong Chang. ... Former UMBC and Whittier (Calif.) lacrosse standout Luke Gilbert is now playing professional indoor lacrosse for the San Jose Stealth, making him what is thought to be the first professional athlete originally from Hereford.

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