Berkley Mensik doesn’t need the luck of the Irish on the pitch.
Blessed with unparalleled speed and quickness, excellent decision-making and a drive that’s beyond compare, the Dundee-Crown senior midfielder / forward turned defenses inside out while rewriting her school’s record books this spring.
While playing for the Chargers for the first time since a brief debut as a freshman in 2019, Mensik was nothing short of amazing, scoring 36 goals and delivering 12 assists, both shattering school records while helping the Chargers to a 15-6 record, their first regional plaque and a sectional semifinal victory before losing to Class 3A runner-up Barrington.
Mensik, who will take her superb talents to South Bend, Ind., And play at the University of Notre Dame, has been named Captain of the 2022 Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area Girls Soccer team.
“What makes Berkley elite is not just her speed, ball control, passing accuracy, shooting ability and soccer IQ, it is her character,” Dundee-Crown coach Rob Moulton said. “Berkley is a leader on and off the field. She not only leads by example, but is a coach on the field. She is a student of the game and her passion and drive is something that our players look up to.”
As difficult as it is to comprehend, Mensik was probably destined to make an even bigger impact at Dundee-Crown than she did in one season, but tore her ACL and MCL in just her second high school game as a freshman. Rehabilitation took longer than expected, but she was committed to returning to greatness while maintaining her sights on playing at the D1 level in college.
“I know a lot of people would say my biggest skill is my speed, but I think it’s my drive for the sport,” she said. “Since I was around 10 I’ve been going to Presidential Park in Algonquin to train. It’s about a five-minute run from my house. I started my first recreation league by going there.”
She turned heads back then, too, earning a spot on the boys team and by the time she entered eighth grade she had written a note to her future self explaining that she hoped to someday play D1 soccer at Notre Dame.
Little did she know that she would have an unforgettable final high school season before seeing such a dream begin to come true.
“We’ve honestly had the best time this year and high school soccer is a core memory for me, I had the greatest time and made my best friends,” she said. “Everyone on the team became my closest friends. We hung out all the time. We have a big school and I didn’t know all my teammates before this year. It’s just unbelievable. It’s truly been life changing.”
She infuriated opponents while quickly winning over her teammates as a leader along with fellow senior co-captain and longtime friend, Kate Raby.
“She’s a great teammate leadership-wise and a lot of the younger girls were able to see how a player like Berkley improved our team as a whole,” Raby said. “She’s always working hard and has insane speed with foot skills to go along with it. In practice it was hard to keep pace and try to defend because she can split three defenders at one time. It’s insane.”
Going up against her in practice certainly made Raby and a Chargers team better. They nearly quadrupled their win total (4-11-1 in 2021) from a season ago while Mensik scored 17 more goals by herself than the team scored as a squad last year.
“Practicing regularly against someone with her speed and skills helped our back line,” Raby said. “I never felt as much pressure defending as when we were in practice.”
Whether drawing attention from multiple defenders yet still finding a way to get past them to score, or facilitating and putting her teammates in scoring situations, Mensik delivered time and time again for the Chargers and enjoyed every moment of it.
“I think one of the greatest feelings I’ve had was when people would reach out via social media after a game,” she said. “Making those connections with other players have made me love the game even more. It’s truly an indescribable feeling.”
There were many of those feelings this spring for Mensik.
“As cliché as these sounds, it didn’t feel like Kate and I were captains. I mean, we took the lead in stretching and warm-ups and drills to demonstrate everything, but I felt like everyone was driven to succeed so everyone was leading, “she said. “I think a big part of our success was everyone was driven to be successful on and off the field and everyone played a part in it. It was leading with my best friends. We hung out all season and kept that bond going, whether going to get breakfast or just hanging out at someone’s house. “
That’s the greatness of her humility.
“Berkley puts the team first and is more excited by her team’s success rather than her own,” Moulton said. “When it comes down to it, Berkley just wants it more than anyone else and is willing to do whatever it takes to win.”