At first glance, it doesn’t seem possible that Jake Sklar is the person his coaches and teammates are describing.
The slightly built senior soccer player at Jewish Community Day School is soft-spoken off the field, smiling calmly and answering questions politely.
But once the 5-foot-9, 142-pound forward puts on a jersey, his aggressiveness, sharp focus and fierce competitive streak have allowed him to become one of the state’s most prolific attackers.
“He has a quiet fury that rages underneath,” Wolves co-coach Lee Carter said. “And he’s learned how to focus that and direct it in a very positive way.”
Sklar has 14 goals and eight assists this season for Jewish Community (4-3-2), putting him in the state’s top 40 in points, according to Maxpreps.com. He has found the net in eight of the Wolves’ nine games — including a five-goal barrage in just 20 minutes during a 7-7 tie against San Francisco Christian — and now has 48 goals in his high school career. His next chance to score comes today against Hanna Boys Center of Sonoma in a 4 p.m. match in Golden Gate Park. The two teams tied 2-2 Sept. 24.
“In that [San Francisco Christian] game, there was that 20-minute stretch where he completely destroyed their entire defense,” Jewish Community co-coach Aaron Pollack said. “It was amazing to watch and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a goal scorer reach that level before.”
Sklar has been a natural scorer since picking up the game as a 5-year-old and hones his skills by constantly keeping a ball near his feet at his Sunset home.
“I usually try to stay in the basement and away from the breakables,” Sklar said with a laugh. “I just love kicking the ball around and fit in some practice time whenever I can.”
He also plays club soccer with the San Carlos Riptide, a team that faces some of the top players in the Bay Area. But Sklar, who wants to continue playing in college, doesn’t mind that his prep team is often overshadowed by some of The City’s larger programs. Jewish Community has just 250 students, roughly 125 boys, and is not a member of a league for soccer.
“At a school this small and it being a Jewish school, I think other teams tend to overlook us,” Sklar said. “And it feels good to show them that we’re a tough team and we can play.”
Sklar’s teammates have seen the way his scoring sprees can shock opponents time and time again. Senior Jeremy Weiss remembered a game from their sophomore year when the Wolves trailed the Bay School 4-2 with seven minutes remaining in the second half. Sklar had a goal and then helped set up another to tie the game at 4-4. Finally, in the final seconds, he took a corner kick from the left flag and bent a ball into the side netting at the far post, capping a 5-4 victory.
“My dad and I still talk about that goal and say it was the best we’ve ever seen,” Weiss said. “Jake’s also one of the most supportive players I’ve ever played with. Even though I’m not as gifted as him, he doesn’t hold that against me and is still a great teammate.”