The Conestoga junior right midfielder is currently leading the Pioneers boys’ soccer team (14-0 as of Monday) in scoring with 10 goals, and according to Conestoga head coach David Zimmerman is one of the key reasons the team is ranked so highly in many of the high school soccer polls. Donovan also led the Pioneers last season in goals and assists (as a sophomore), helping Conestoga to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the PIAA state semi-finals.
Q: You’re leading the team in scoring this season. What do you think have been the biggest keys to your goal scoring this fall?
A: I think the key to my goal scoring this season is the selflessness of my teammates. Nobody is just in it for themselves. We have many attacking players returning from last year’s team and we all have such great chemistry. It seems as if every time I make a run in behind somebody is able to slip me in on net.
Q: Is there one goal that you’ve scored this season that stands out in your memory – if so, can you describe the unfolding of the play, and your role in it?
A: My favorite goal so far this season was the game winner against West Chester Henderson. With about 2 minutes to go, we earned a free kick around midfield. Blaise Milanek played me a quick, long restart in behind the defense which I knocked down for our striker, Nick Jennings. He took a first time shot which the keeper saved right into my path. I thought that the defender should get to it before I did, but I beat him to it to tap the winner into the back of the net. It is by no means the best goal we have scored this season, but the circumstances as the game winner against another very good team make it the one most likely to stick in my head.
Q: Last fall, during your sophomore season, the Pioneers had an undefeated regular season and made it to the state semi-finals. What was your most vivid memory of last season – can you share it with us?
A: My most vivid memory of last season was my overtime goal against Radnor. Mike McCarthy crossed a ball in which bounced over a defender’s outstretched leg and came up to the perfect height for me to volley towards the far post. As soon as I saw the ball hit the back of the net I turned and I was instantly met by a mob of my teammates. There was no better feeling than to beat Radnor, one of our biggest rivals, in overtime after coming back from being down 1-0 in the second half.
Q: Have you always played right mid?
A: When I was younger and on the travel team for TEYSA where we played 8v8, I was a center mid because there were no outside kids on the small field we played on. The first practice after tryouts the year we switched to 11v11, my club coach put me at right mid. Ever since that I have never wanted to play anywhere else. I’ve been playing the position ever since the very first time it was available to me and I think it suits my attributes perfectly.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think the strongest part of my game is my off-the-ball movement. I try my best to make sure that my runs are perfectly timed and my movement creates space for my teammates to run into as well. The skill I’m currently working on most is my finishing because despite all of my success so far, I think all of my teammates would agree that is my weakest area. If I finished all of my clear-cut chances I could have up to 30 goals already. It is definitely an area of mine that needs work.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: My pregame preparation is nothing special in my mind. Every morning I eat several large bowls of cereal or a few waffles because getting energy in is essential for me. Otherwise there is nothing out of the ordinary about my pregame preparation other than liking to get out on the field before everyone else to start warming up if it is accessible to me.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: My biggest soccer mentors have been my coaches throughout my life. My club coach, Dom Balsamo has been a great inspiration as well as our assistant coach, Kevin Jennings, who is also the father of my lifelong friend and teammate, Nick Jennings. They have been coaching me since I was 10 and I owe just about everything I know about soccer to them. Recently, Coach Zimmerman has become a mentor over the last year or so, teaching me a side of my game that I now value very highly, my work ethic and fitness.
Q: You want to play soccer for a college program. What colleges are among your current favorites? What do you think you might like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My only favorites as of now are Lehigh and American. I haven’t decided anything about what I want to major in, but I value my education highly and that is why these Patriot League schools are very attractive for me.
Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Conestoga? What sparked your interest in each of these activities?
A: For the past two years, I have played basketball as well as soccer at Conestoga. Unfortunately soccer has taken over and I won’t be playing again this year, but it was certainly fun while it lasted. I am also part of the chess team. Our whole team is part of chess team because it is run by our coach, David Zimmerman. It is one of the most popular clubs at Conestoga and for good reason, there is always good competition and fun going on.
Fun facts – Chris Donovan