Jenna Szczesny is generally shy, quiet and quick to deflect credit. On the soccer field, it is a completely different matter. Her style of play is electrifying.
The Barrington junior forward had a dream season last year, scoring 25 goals and registering eight assists for a Fillies team that won 19 games, captured the MSL Cup and finished third in Class 3A.
She did not want her game to stagnate. In the offseason, Barrington coach Ryan Stengren talked with Szczesny about the areas of her game that he wanted her to work on.
She is virtually uncontainable in the open field. Her quickness and speed separate her from the pack.
She has seven goals through the first five games for the No. 2 Fillies (4-0-1). She has diversified her game, becoming more physical and threatening with headers, a facet of the game she was reluctant to use in the past.
“I definitely need to work on my touches, I know that’s a big thing,” she said. “I’m always going to work on my speed, because that’s something you are never going to reach your maximum potential and something you can always improve on.”
She is the youngest of five from a soccer-playing family. Her three brothers played club soccer and her sister, Neena, was an excellent player at Barrington.
“I’m the youngest by 11 years, playing with my brothers and my sister, they were a lot faster than me and I always tried to keep up with them,” Szczesny said.
Her talent captured Stengren’s attention.
“Because I had the luxury of coaching her sister, I’ve seen Jenna grow up,” he said. “I knew she was quiet, but I also knew she had the athletic ability and she just had to bring it out of her.
“She has always had the physical tools, she’s got the athleticism, but now she’s really getting it mentally. The great thing about her is she doesn’t have to score a goal and she can still be one of the best players on the field.”
Szczesny’s game is pure and expressive. She also knows how to improvise on the spot.
Against Schaumburg on Saturday, she sliced between two defenders and scored with her off-foot, her left, in the Fillies’ victory.
Following her sister, Szczesny has verbally committed to play at Loyola.
“I had some offers from some Big Ten schools, but seeing how they played compared to Loyola, the Big Ten games seemed slow,” she said.
That is emphatically not her style.