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Drexel star among group of college players getting valuable experience with local clubs this fall

With Drexel not playing this fall, Chris Donovan is starring for West Chester United instead


Drexel not having a fall soccer season hasn’t stopped star player Chris Donovan from scoring goals and playing regularly over the past couple months.

Donovan along with college teammates Joey Martini, Kyle Tucker and Graeme Newcombe have been playing for West Chester United. Donovan has been a regular for league games in the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania, the Northeast Elite Soccer League Super League, state cup matches and friendlies like one they played a couple weeks ago against the Philadelphia Union U17s.

“I’ve been very grateful that they have brought me on basically and given me the chance to play all the time because I started with them the summer after my freshman year,” Donovan said. “Since then every chance I really have to train with the West Chester team I take it because there’s so many talented players it makes me better.”

Donovan is in his junior year at Drexel studying sports management but with the season shut down and training only recently starting back up again for his college teammates Donovan opted not to go into the bubble. In addition to playing, he’s back at his alma mater Conestoga helping with coaching the junior varsity squad there.

Chris Donovan in a preseason match in 2019 against Villanova
Matt Ralph

“It’s a nice first step for me to get a good learning experience coaching,” Donovan said of the high school gig.

Between coaching, training and playing with West Chester United and keeping up with his studies online, Donovan is as busy as ever but doing what he loves.

“Whether I’m playing, watching or coaching soccer is a huge part of my life,” Donovan said.

While West Chester’s roster includes many former standouts from local colleges, a number of other current college players are filling out the team this fall like Dane Jacomen, Anthony Rovito and Joey Bhangdia from Penn, Vito Vincent from West Chester, Loyola midfielder Sam Brown and others.

Having Drexel teammates in the setup has added to the experience for Donovan.

“Those are some of my best friends and you know it’s great to be able to play with them, even in a chance where we wouldn’t normally, because we’re all playing with separate club teams we just happen to be playing with the same one,” he said.

Drexel head coach Michael Marchiano, who took over the program at the beginning of the year, said it’s been a good situation for his players who opted out of the bubble to get such valuable playing time.

“I think it’s great for those guys to be able to be a part of that environment,” Marchiano said.

Donovan had 10 goals and 5 assists for the Dragons in his first two seasons. He was named to the Philly Soccer Six All-Star team after earning top goal scorer in 2019. His ability not only going forward but in closing players down defensively makes him an imposing figure for opponents.

“He’s probably going to be able to develop at a higher rate than a lot of kids around the country are able to do right now because of the environment that he’s able to be a part of at West Chester,” Marchiano said. “I have full trust that whenever he returns to the fold that he’ll be in a good place physically and technically and tactically.”

Chris Donovan in a USL of Pa. match against Vereinigung Erzgebirge in September 2020
Matt Ralph

The games and the goals have been plentiful for Donovan playing for the black, white and light blue of West Chester.

“The way that he just covers ground, especially in our high press system is something that we feel is good enough to get him to play at the next level,” West Chester United head coach Blaise Santangelo said. “His goal scoring is obviously something that every club would want and his ability to run down balls or get behind lines but he’s just about as skilled doing the defensive work as we see at our level.”

West Chester United will take on Philadelphia Union II tonight in a friendly at Subaru Park. While only invited guests will be permitted entry, the game will be streamed live with commentary on MyCujoo beginning at 7 p.m.