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Europe pro clubs have an eye on Toms River’s Chris Konopka – Asbury Park Press
August 26, 2006

Europe pro clubs have an eye on Toms River’s Chris Konopka

Published by the Asbury Park Press on 08/26/06


There’s a certain buzz around about Jersey Shore Boca veteran goalkeeper and Providence College senior Chris Konopka.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Konopka’s name was mentioned by some of Europe’s top professional soccer clubs as teams scouted players for the 2006-07 European season.

In June, Gerry Peyton, goalkeeper coach for the English Premiere League’s Arsenal FC, reviewed game tapes of the Toms River native and was encouraged about certain qualities he saw, according to Richard Law, who scouts for Arsenal in North and South America.

Konopka, who begins his final year of college eligibility at Providence this season, also had game tapes requested from Spanish Premiere League first division club Celta de Vigo, which qualified for the first round of the UEFA Cup courtesy of their sixth place league finish last season.

Also interested were Manchester City of the EPL as well as Cork City and St. Patrick’s, both of the FAI Irish Premiere League.

“I’m not surprised that Chris has attracted some interest from these European teams,” said Al Schwartz, president of the Jersey Shore Boca Soccer Club. “He’s one of the top young rising goalkeepers in the United States.

“His overall size and pure athletic ability is something you cannot teach, which makes him a very good prospect for any professional team. Add his sound technical skills and relatively young age and you can see why these clubs have an interest in him.”

The American-born Konopka, 21, is eligible for dual citizenship in Poland, a member of the European Union, which if obtained, could help his professional soccer opportunities.

As a junior, Konopka led Providence College of the NCAA’s Big East Conference to a historic season last year and set several school and individual records in the process.

For the first time, the Friars advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament. They finished last season with one of the best campaigns in school history ending with a 7-4-9 record and a year-end national RPI ranking of 26th and College Soccer News national ranking of 30th, the highest ever in both polls.

Konopka, a 2003 graduate of Toms River East High School, played every minute between the pipes for the Friars in 2005 setting school records for the most games played (20) and most minutes played (2020:38) by a Friars goalkeeper in a single season.

He allowed only 21 goals for a 0.94 GAA, one of the lowest in school history, made 89 saves and recorded six shutouts, the most for a Friars team since 1990.

He also became the first goalkeeper in school history to record both a win and shutout in the NCAA Tournament when Providence College upset then-13th nationally ranked Hofstra University 1-0 on Nov. 18 in the tournament’s first round.

Konopka received Big East and ECAC goalkeeper of the week honors as well as Big East honorable mention honors throughout the season. He finished second in the Big East in saves (89) and saves per game (4.45), fourth in shutouts (6) and fifth in goals against average (0.94) for the year.

Konopka spent time this summer at Giants Stadium practicing with the full senior team of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls alongside U.S. goalkeeping icon Tony Meola.

Last year, he spent time practicing throughout the summer with both the MLS New England Revolution and the Metrostars (now the Red Bulls).

The talented goalkeeper represented the U.S. on the U.S. U19 regional team fourteen times in domestic and international competition during 2004 and was a member of U.S. Soccer Youth Regional Teams for several years.

Konopka has been a member of Boca’s youth system, Super Y-League, U20 and U23 teams throughout his career as well as a member of Boca’s PDL team in 2003.

He also played for the New Jersey Falcons of the PDL during the 2004 season.

Konopka is a computer graphics and design major at Providence.

Asbury Park Press