All it took was a year.
Pat Berkery has been an essential part of Penn men’s lacrosse offense after not touching the field during his rookie season. Coming off of knee surgery, Berkery was not able to play his freshman year.
“Last year I had a scout team role, getting the defense ready for the games, and this year it’s a totally different position playing a lot more,” he said.
It certainly has been different. The sophomore has already recorded seven goals on the year, tied for fifth-most on the team. Berkery plays a critical role for the Red and Blue, yet no one is surprised by his success, despite his lack of prior experience.
“He was hurting this summer and never really got healthy,” coach Mike Murphy said. “So we were expecting pretty big things from him this year, even though he didn’t play last year but it’s not surprising.
“He was a very good high school player and had a lot of options for where to go to college, so very complete and very athletic and very skilled and very smart. So we’ve put him in a bunch of situations and he’s doing really well.”
He, as well as other members of the sophomore class, plays a much more prominent role on the field and in helping the team win. Berkery had his biggest game to date against Brown last Saturday, scoring two goals — including the game-winner — in the crucial Ivy matchup.
“Pat Berkery has kind of been an anchor for us in the midfield, and Derick Edwards has too,” Murphy said. “With those guys, it took pretty big steps from freshman year to sophomore year, and now they are starting to settle in and be a little bit more assertive, which is what we need.”
Penn has a few crucial players in its midfield — including Drew Belinsky and Zack Losco — playing the final games of their careers just as Berkery and others just get their footing on Murphy’s squad. The game experience these sophomores are getting this year will certainly be critical going into next season when the Quakers lose a significant group of seniors.
“You get people like Drew and Zach Losco graduating in the midfield, and Pat and Derick are going to have to step up and take more or a leadership role there,” Murphy said. “We’ve got some good juniors too but ... the sophomores are going to have to step into big roles when the seniors leave.”
“We are losing a tremendous group of seniors, they all have leadership roles,” Berkery added. “They’ve all been playing big roles for the past for years so there’s just big shoes to fill next year.”
But with players like Berkery stepping into bigger roles, the Quakers have a solid chance to fill those shoes.