By Robert Wilson
Connor Dunnigan has been a starter on St. Andrew’s boys soccer team since the seventh grade. This season – his senior season and sixth straight year to start – was his best. Dunnigan led the team in goals, won his second state championship and was named the Mississippi Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“Connor is such a self-motivated man, very driven, very focused, and a terrific young man on and off the field,” St. Andrew’s coach Simon Barinas said. “He’s kept me on my toes as a coach, and a role model for him, he’s challenged me to be a better man, and a better coach. Connor always wants to learn, always willing to take constructive criticism. He’s a unique player, very talented, and with so much potential that we still haven’t see. I’m so proud of the man, and player that he has become. He’s family to me.”
“I am excited and honored when I won the award,” Dunnigan said. “I was with my parents who supported me the whole way through injuries and more and we were all so happy.”
Dunnigan scored 17 goals and had 12 assists and led St. Andrew’s to a 14-3-1 record and the MHSAA Class 1A/2A/3A state championship for the second time in three seasons this year as a senior. All three losses were to MSHAA Class 6A teams, Clinton, Brandon, and Starkville. Clinton won the state title, Brandon was runner-up and Starkville made the semifinals. He scored 59 goals in his last five seasons. Dunnigan was a part of two state championships teams and two state runner-up teams. Since the seventh grade, his teams never had a losing season and had a combined 82-36-9 record, a .694 winning percentage. Dunnigan signed with Division I Furman, a private school in South Carolina which plays in the Southern Conference.
“I’ve coached Connor since the seventh grade,” Barinas said. “I’ve seen him grown on an off the field. I’ve seen him succeed and seen him deal with season ending injuries and seen him recover from that. Connor broke his leg playing club soccer in the summer, heading into his junior year, which kept him off the fields for a few months. When he came back, it was like he didn’t skip a beat, and that goes back to his determination again. He led his team in goals his senior year, but more importantly it was his leadership that carried most of the weight.”
Dunnigan also finished third in the state in golf and was the MVP for football his senior season. He played wide receiver and caught 50 passes for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season. Dunnigan won the state championship in golf as a junior, finished in the Top 5 as a sophomore and Top 10 as an eighth grader.
Dunnigan is the son of Colin and Laura Dunnigan. Colin played football Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Laura played soccer and volleyball in high school in Tucson, Arizona. Dunnigan has one sibling, sister Morgan, 24, who lives in Boston.