Chris Donovan's record-setting season guided Conestoga to second straight state title
The senior Drexel recruit scored a school-record 56 goals this season as the Pioneers went 25-0-1.
It has been almost two weeks, but the glow has not yet worn away.
Conestoga soccer star Chris Donovan capped a historic senior season with four goals in the PIAA Class 4A state championship game on Nov. 17. On that day, the Pioneers completed an undefeated season (25-0-1) and repeated as state champs with a 4-0 win over Hempfield at Hersheypark Stadium.
Before that, Donovan, a forward, guided Conestoga's powerful offensive attack by putting together a season for the ages. He shattered the school's single-season scoring record with 56 goals and nine hat tricks, bringing his high school career total to 81 goals.
"What amazes me the most about Chris is that despite all of his success, he still manages to stay humble," said Conestoga head coach David Zimmerman. "He doesn't celebrate excessively and frankly he doesn't particularly like a lot of attention."
The senior Drexel recruit was named Central League MVP and joined fellow seniors Nick Jennings and Mike McCarthy as first-team All-Central League selections from Conestoga. Donovan also made all-Southeastern Pennsylvania and all-state teams.
"I get a lot of attention for the amount of goals that I score," said Donovan. "But none of it would be possible without the guys around me."
Donovan, who scored the lone goal in last year's state final victory over Elizabethtown, notched eight goals during this year's state tournament. The Pioneers beat Ephrata, Parkland, and Central Bucks West before taking down Hempfield.
Although Donovan was a big part of Conestoga's success this season, many other members of the team played key roles.
Jennings, a midfielder and the captain of both state title teams, scored 10 goals this year. He was a 2016 all-American and will be attending Lehigh University next season. McCarthy, a centerback, will be attending Drexel next year. Junior goalkeeper Luke Smith recorded 13 shutouts this season.
And then there was senior defender Andrew Castleman. He won the state championship game for soccer and then drove back to Hershey the following morning to win the Ethics Bowl State Championship for Conestoga. According to organizers, Ethics Bowl teams "argue and defend their moral assessment of some of the most troubling and complex ethical issues facing society today."
The Pioneers had 10 seniors on the roster this season and scored an astonishing 109 total goals in 26 games. They have not lost a match since the 2016 District 1 title game against West Chester Henderson.
"The main goal coming into the season was to go back to states and win the title again," said Donovan. "The only way we did it better this year was by also winning the District 1 title."
Conestoga won the Central League crown for the fourth straight year and defeated Council Rock North in the District 1 title game. This was the fourth state title for the Pioneers, who also won it all in 1988 and 2011.
Since 2010, Conestoga has compiled a record of 162-20-12 to go along with seven Central League titles, two District 1 crowns, six state tournament trips, and three state titles.
"For all of the success we've had on the field over the past several years, the thing I'm most proud of is that we've won the Central League's Sportsmanship Award as voted by the coaches of the Central League for the past five years," said Zimmerman. "It speaks volumes about the way we've carried ourselves on the field and about what kind of people we are. How you go about doing things is just as important as what you accomplish."