Tim Rotanz looks like someone with eccentric hobbies. He wears square glasses and a well-groomed red beard, and he his takes his time answering questions.
It isn’t surprising that the Maryland men’s lacrosse midfielder has an affinity for electronics. Earlier this year, he took the team’s broken speaker home and attempted to fix it even after other players said they’d buy a new one.
That handyman mentality translates to the field, where he embraces the dirty work few others want to handle. Rotanz is adept at joining the attack with crisp passing, sharp dodges and on-target shots. But he also defends counter attacks, often staying on the field longer than anyone else.
During a national championship rematch against Ohio State on Sunday, Maryland will need Rotanz’s versatility. Last year, he helped the Terps to a title triumph over the Buckeyes with three goals, including the clinching lob into an empty net.
“When the game’s on the line,” coach John Tillman said, “you won’t find a cooler customer and a guy that plays with more poise.”
Rotanz was raised with an understanding of how defenses function. His dad, Tom, was an All-American defender Adelphi University, and his uncle also played in that role.
Rotanz attended lacrosse camps as a defenseman while he was in middle school, which he said helped him understand how to manage opposing attacks. He also watched game film with his dad, then a coach at Shoreham-Wading River High School in New York.
He benefited from those moments as a two-way player in high school. He complemented his 248 goals with strong defense on the man-down unit. Inside Lacrosse ranked him the No. 2 attackman in his recruiting class.
“[Defense] is in my blood,” Rotanz said. “I learned offense through a defensive perspective. It’s nothing knew.”
Because Maryland’s midfield is inexperienced, Rotanz sometimes remains on the field longer than usual. Midfielders Bubba Fairman and Will Snider are still adjusting to the college level, leading Rotanz to extend shifts to defend fast-break situations.
Against Albany last season, Rotanz remained on the field amid numerous Great Danes substitutions. Afterward, Tillman told him he could have come out of the game, but Rotanz said he wanted to take care of the situation himself.
“[The key is to] get a grasp of what [defenders] see, ask questions and understand what the game plan is that week,” Rotanz said.
Though Rotanz has spent more time defending this year, he still has 12 goals and 12 assists, making him one of Maryland’s most valuable all-around players. The Terps expect him to again be a key contributor this weekend against the Buckeyes.
“Over the years, he’s made his presence felt more on the field and he’s really blossomed into that leadership role,” goalkeeper Dan Morris said. “He knows everything going on and gives guys the ‘why’ of doing things.”