Jake Persenico spent a lot of time sitting on the bench last season.
The St. Charles North senior was sidelined with injuries for the majority of the year. He itched to get onto the field to help the North Stars.
“I spent a lot of time watching the seniors from last year, but it wasn’t wasted time,” he said. “I learned a lot from them and that carried over to this year.”
Watching forwards like Jonathan Acevedo and Dylan Mientus and midfielder Ryan Olson lead the North Stars to a successful season in 2016 motivated Persenico.
It definitely made an impact, and so has Persenico.
This year he helped the North Stars to their second state appearance while bringing home the program’s first state trophy after a fourth-place finish in Class 3A.
For his scoring prowess, especially in clutch situations and the biggest games, Persenico is the Kane County Chronicle Player of the Year.
“He was a difference-maker this year. I think we had seen the potential of what Jake Persenico could do early on and that’s why he’s been with us since sophomore year,” North Stars coach Eric Willson said. “This year he really took his game to a whole other level. He became an incredibly dangerous player as soon as he had the ball."
Persenico could beat teams going right and he could beat them going left. Most significantly, he could beat them when it mattered most, which Persenico proved time and time again especially once the postseason arrived.
He scored in six of St. Charles North’s seven postseason games.
“We saw him at his best when he was playing quick and using his speed,” Willson said. “The difference this year was his finishing ability."
Persenico also didn’t hesitate from being aggressive in his role as the main scorer.
“When you’re in this position as a forward you know one of your responsibilities is to score so I tried to score most of the time,” Persenico said. “I was constantly on the highest part of the field, usually the top 18 [yards] or inside so if I got a good look I was trying to shoot and finish it.”
When opponents ganged upon him, it provided Persenico with an opportunity to create chances for his teammates.
“When he’d get double-teamed he’d share the ball and make other players around him better,” Willson said. “He was definitely a team guy, but he also stepped up and scored goals himself whenever we needed him.”
What some may have not appreciated was Persenico’s strong defensive pressure. Willson recognized that aspect of his game.
“His defensive pressure was awesome and he forced turnovers all the time,” Willson said. “He bought into everything that we needed him to do, including defensively.”
Persenico acknowledged that he’ll always cherish his time playing for the North Stars and that he’ll missing playing with the guys, being around the coaches and getting big wins at home the most.
“I know I’ll miss it so I’ll definitely try to come back out to as many games as possible next year,” he said. “And I hope to play somewhere next year. I’m looking at a few schools right now, all Division III, so we’ll see what happens.”