If you do nothing else between now and next season, remember the name Timmy Rotanz.
He’s the talented attackman for Shoreham-Wading River, the son of successful head coach Tom Rotanz, and a vital cog in a machine that could very well execute without a hiccup all the way to Rochester come early June.
Oh, and did I mention he’s in eighth grade?
It’s true. Timmy Rotanz is a 13-year-old with 33 points and a size 12 shoe.
“Being a lefty, there’s just certain things he does that make him unique,” said Tom Rotanz, who’s in his 15th season at Shoreham. “If you see him, you just realize this is not the norm. We talk all the time about expectations and how to handle them. He’s been very good, mostly because he just likes to play the game.”
Timmy Rotanz has been a revelation for SWR (11-1), the No. 9 team in this week’s LaxLessons Top 25 Regional Rankings and 17th-ranked squad in the latest Inside Lacrosse/Under Armour national poll. In addition to being a marked man as a super underclassmen, the 5-foot-10, 155 pounder has played his best lacrosse against the best competition. Chew on this: He scored four goals at Rocky Point, went 3 and 2 in a 13-5 win over New Jersey power Mountain Lakes and 4 and 1 against Huntington.
The Rotanz connection doesn’t stop there for Shoreham, which won state Class C championships in 2002 and 2007. There’s also a younger Tom Rotanz, currently the team’s fourth attackman, and three other sets of brothers on a squad that despite Monday’s 9-8 double-OT loss to Kings Park is one of the favorites to win the Section 11 Class B title.
There’s the Miller brothers. Jack, a senior FOGO who will attend Division II’s Presbyterian next year, and second-line junior middie Brett, who will be counted on going forward this season and next.
Jack Miller has played a huge role in a Shoreham offense that is averaging nearly 12 goals per game, mostly because he’s one of the best faceoff men on Long Island, continuing a recent trend at Shoreham that includes current MLL All-Star Peter Vlahakis, John Condzella, who went on to Cornell, and Andrew Hennessey, currently at Bryant.
“Faceoffs are something you have to have to be successful,” Tom Rotanz said. “Jack is a tough kid. He’s learned a lot from our alumni. He takes a lot of pride in it and has become one of the best surprises we’ve had.”
On close defense there are the Mahoney brothers, senior Sean (Kings Point Military Academy) and freshman Chris, both of whom start and are largely responsible for a defense that has allowed a little less than 7 goals per game in a league that consists of some of the best teams the Island has to offer — namely Comsewogue, Smithtown West and defending Class B state champ Rocky Point.
“Chris is another freak of nature,” Tom Rotanz said. “He started on man-down as an eighth grader and now as a freshman is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.”
Tom Rotanz also pointed out the Menenzes brothers, sophomore middie Patrick and fourth defenseman D.J., who only add to a team that appears to have the one intangible so many teams lack — depth.
The Wildcats’ coach is also unique beyond being the father of two of his better players. Tom Rotanz graduated from Ward Melville in 1977, has been at Shoreham since 1994 and has taught the last 24 years at Rocky Point. Yes, the same Rocky Point that Shoreham laid a 14-6 beating on on April 28, one of just two losses for the Eagles this season.
(You can see some extremely well done highlights of that game by clicking on the following link. Special thanks to Kevin Wood for making that happen and for using my boy Joe Satriani for the rockin’ background music!)
Tom Rotanz said he takes pride in the fact that his team is extremely well balanced on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats come at opponents in waves. Senior attackman Joe Lustgarten (UMBC) leads the way with 48 points, followed by senior middie Michael Perdie (45, Merrimack), senior middie Nik Mullen (36, Navy), Timmy Rotanz (33), sophomore attackman Connor Drost (26) and senior middie Kyle Sopko (23, Springfield).
“The thing that I think we haven’t had in a while is a very unselfish team,” Tom Rotanz said. “You try to stop one of them, another just steps right up. Between our top six scorers they average 33 points. We have been very pleased with the unselfishness.”
Besides the Mahoney brothers, Tom Rotanz also gushes over the play of close defenseman Leo Greeley and all-county goalie Nick Longo, a senior who will play next season at Towson.
“Leo really saw the light over the summer and became possessed. I never thought in my wildest dreams he’d emerge like this,” Tom Rotanz said. “Nick is as good as it gets in the cage. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better goalie on Long Island.”
Make no mistake, though Shoreham has its fair share of seniors, this program is built for the long haul. Eighth-graders, freshmen, you name it, the Wildcats have it.
“We have very strong sophomore and freshman classes,” the coach said. “Our second middie line is all underclassmen. We have big defensemen that are coming up as well. We will run five attackmen, two short-stick d-middies and three long-stick middies.”
But despite a seemingly perfect situation, Tom Rotanz is mindful of the past. He pointed out his 2003 team’s loss to Yorktown in the Class B state semifinals, a defeat that snapped his school’s 47-game winning streak. He also emphasized that in a county that is just loaded with exceptional teams, players and coaches, one just never knows.
Take Monday night for example. The previously undefeated Wildcats were up by a goal with a minute to play before eventually losing in the extra session.
“No, I’m worried about just winning our first game,” Tom Rotanz said. “I always set up a difficult non-league schedule and I always set the bar high for the kids. I would put our Class B up against any conference in the country.
“Look at the upcoming playoffs. We may have to face Rocky Point, Comsewogue, Sayville, Smithtown West … If we have a bad game against any of them, it will be time to pack the equipment and go home.”
But that’s not to say he anticipates an early exit. It’s pretty clear Tom Rotanz and the rest of the Wildcats have their eyes on Paetec Park, site of this year’s state finals.
“We have a good core of senior leadership and our younger players are really doing a nice job of filling in,” Tom Rotanz said.
“I have this saying that I tell the kids all the time. I never said as a player I should’ve, would’ve or could’ve. I just did it. You play for the moment. You do it and leave it all out on the field. These kids do that. We’ve very proud of them.”
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