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Senior attacker Dylan Gergar rushes toward the goal while fighting off Duke defenders at Penn Park on Feb. 25. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

When Penn men’s lacrosse took to the field last month against Villanova, one player was noticeably absent from the starting lineup: captain and senior attacker Dylan Gergar, who has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury since March 8. 

While his commendable leadership has led the team to many successes since his freshman year, his sudden departure from the field has forced the team to rework its attack on the fly and contributed to an up-and-down season for Penn men’s lacrosse, who are currently standing 4-5. 

For sophomore attacker Tynan Walsh, who suddenly found himself thrust into a starting role following Gergar’s injury, filling the shoes of his predecessor took a few games of adjustment. During his first two games as a starter, he produced no goals and just one assist. 

But in recent weeks, he has seemingly acclimated to the role, scoring seven goals in the team's past three games. To start this recent stretch, Walsh scored four times and played a huge role in Penn's 17-16 win over Yale on April 1

Performing cohesively as a team with a player on the bench is no simple feat, but when the player in question happens to be as vital as Gergar, the difficulty is quickly compounded. Despite his injury, coach Mike Murphy praised Gergar’s commitment to supporting the team and his inspirational leadership style, which has given the team motivation to keep competing each week. “His presence is still felt,” he said in response to Gergar’s absence, a sentiment that Walsh and his fellow teammates echoed as well. 

“I mean, [Gergar] is one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Walsh said after the matchup with Yale. "He is a great mentor, great friend, so, you know, it’s really tough to have [Gergar] not on the field. But someone’s got to step up and play, and I think today we kind of showed that we can play.” 

This next-man-up attitude will be necessary for the team's game against Harvard on Saturday. Coming off last week's loss at Brown, the Quakers are aiming to bounce back and return from Cambridge with a win, a goal that is made possible when players like Walsh rise to the occasion.  

As a senior, finishing his career at Penn with an injury is definitely not the send-off Gergar or his teammates foresaw. However, his leadership and positive presence continue to set the team up for success, even if it’s just from the sidelines.