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Donovan siblings’ passion for soccer pays dividends for Conestoga

Tredyffrin – You might think deep in the back of their minds, there are days Dave and Karen Donovan wish their children’s passion for soccer were not so deeply rooted – but that could not be further from the truth.

If that was the case they would most likely have less broken objects in the house when Conestoga soccer stars Chris and Caitlin Donovan turn the living room into a makeshift soccer field, with the fireplace serving as the perfect goal  when they are unable to go outside due to the weather.

“Having a place to play inside in the winter is nice since I don’t like to play outside when it’s too cold,” Chris said following his team’s 2-0 defeat to West Chester Henderson in the district final Nov. 5 at Great Valley High School. “My mom doesn’t like it too much because sometimes we break things but honestly that’s where I come up with some of my best moves.”

Caitlin, whose team defeated Central Bucks South 1-0 Nov. 4 to earn the third place seed from District One in the upcoming state playoffs added, “We do play in the living room a lot and Mom’s not too happy about that. There are a few broken objects.”

Despite hearing a clank here or a boom there, a broken leg on a table or knick knacks breaking when a shot goes wide or high, the parents (Dave and Karen) would not have it any other way, with soccer being the tool to create a unique sibling relationship.

“The whole family bonds over soccer especially me and Chris,” said Caitlin, “We have a unique relationship and I don’t think any body else has that bond.”

“Soccer is a special thing that brings Caitlin and I closer together,” said Chris, “We always try to go to each other’s game when we can so we can support each other.”

Reaping the benefits of their relationship and talent has been the Conestoga boys’ and girls’ soccer teams.

 “It’s been great,” said Conestoga’s first-year girls soccer head coach Ben Wilson, referring to his team. “From the summer trainings, I could see that we had a good blend of everything-talented experienced players, young potential and Caitlin is obviously a top talent especially for a freshman. We also had other freshmen, goalie Maeve Regan and left back Calista Courtney. They are all really talented but Caitlin is a young goal scoring threat which makes her stand out a little more but it’s a good blessing because you know for three more years we will have a top player scoring goals for us.”

Conestoga boys’ head soccer coach Dave Zimmerman said, “Chris is first and foremost our primary goal scorer. He has led the team in goals both this season and last season. What’s amazing to me is how much he produces playing on the right wing. He has more goals and assists than any player at that position that I have coached in my 15 years as Conestoga’s coach. The best part about Chris is that despite all of his success, he is the most humble and unassuming player on the team. He’s a great example to the younger players on the team.”

Tuesday, the Conestoga boys’ and girls’ teams began play in the 2016 PIAA Class 4A tournament with the boys taking on Parkland, the runner-up from District 11 at Downingtown West, while the girls team hit the road and traveled to J. Birney Cum Stadium in Allentown to take on District 11 champion Parkland.

While it’s exciting for both teams, it could add a wrinkle for the parents if they wish to see each of their children compete. However, it’s nothing new for a set of parents that have juggled schedules since Chris began playing soccer in first grade and Caitlin followed suit in Kindergarten.

“It means so much because our parents are so supportive of both of us,” said Caitlin, who leads the team in scoring with nine goals. “They will sacrifice anything to get us to a practice or a game.”

Chris, who led the team in scoring with 13 goals added, “I have to thank them because they take some time off work some times. We have weekends away which obviously cost a lot.”

Chris began club soccer with TEYSA at U9, which changed to FC Europa at U11.   At U15 his whole team and coach switched clubs and joined FC Montco.  Their team name is Die Mannschaft, currently ranked #1 in the state by Got Soccer.  With the change in the age brackets (birth year instead of birth date) this year their team decided to stay together so as they head into the club season they will be playing U18 because they have a mix of kids born in 1999 and 2000.  They will be participating in the National League.

Caitlin also began club soccer with TEYSA at U9, which changed to FC Europa at U11.  At the start of the U13 season her team dissolved and the coach at Lower Merion graciously invited her to play with them. She played at Lower Merion for the past two years.  After the spring season she moved to 1776 United FC Xtreme.  Similar to her brother’s team regarding the change in age brackets (birth year instead of birth date) they decided to stay together so they will be playing U16 as they head into the club season due to a mix of kids born in 2001 and 2002.  They are also currently ranked No. 1 in the state by Got Soccer and will be participating in the National League.




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