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Although senior Jake Kohlbrenner started his Penn men's soccer career with a flurry of goals, his leadership has made him more than just a prolific scorer.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Contributing in major ways to the team isn’t always about scoring goals. 

Originally from East Syracuse, N.Y., senior forward Jake Kohlbrenner burst onto the scene for Penn men's soccer in 2017 and 2018, his first two seasons with the team. He scored the second-most goals of anyone on the team during his freshman campaign, in addition to being named two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week and receiving second team All-Ivy honors. 

In 2018, Kohlbrenner again produced staunt offensive numbers, leading the Red and Blue in shots, shots on target, and was second in goals with three. To cap off an standout offensive year, Kohlbrenner scored the game-winning goal in a thrilling double-overtime victory against Brown.

At Penn, Kohlbrenner found himself dealing with the high demands of the Division I level while meeting all the regular demands of a college student. He described how their coaches work together to create a professional atmosphere which has been awesome for the team to learn from. 

“[This past season], I wasn’t as effective in scoring goals,” said Kohlbrenner. “For every player on the field, I think the coaches do a really good job of outlining the jobs and goals we have on the field every time we step on.” 

At the core of Kohlbrenner’s Penn experience has been his desire to continue to improve himself in all facets of life. As his role has shifted throughout his seasons within the team, Kohlbrenner strives to adapt himself to whatever duty he must fulfill.

“From freshman to senior year, it was about maturing and becoming better and better versions of myself, obviously as a soccer player but also a teammate and a human being,” Kohlbrenner said. “Everyone needs to be refined and improve in various ways, and I think I have done that. Junior to senior year, it was proving I can be a leader on and off the field.” 

Kohlbrenner’s efforts were rewarded this past season, as he was presented with the Unsung Player of the Year of 2019. He was honored and excited to be recognized by his coaches and teammates for his humble drive and work ethic, doing all the little things to help his team win.

The theme has remained constant throughout quarantine, as Kohlbrenner takes advantage of the downtime by watching copious amounts of game film, in order to analyze, critique, and improve several larger aspects of his play such as positioning. 

“Of course, you can’t talk about the experience without talking about the guys on the team, the friends, and the guys who I’ve become very close with and graduated,” Kohlbrenner said. “The on-field experience and the relationships have been highlights for sure.”

As Kohlbrenner and the Quakers continue to prepare for an upcoming season — whenever it may be — the team tries to get something valuable out of all their quarantine experiences and reminds themselves that every day is an opportunity to improve.