Boys Lacrosse Preview: Opportunity is now for defending champs

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Tim Rotanz will lead the midfield for the Wildcats while also seeing time on attack or even defense.

Over the last decade, Shoreham-Wading River has consistently been among the top boys lacrosse teams in Division II, which is a mix of Class B and C teams. When the Wildcats are good, as they were last year in winning a state championship, they can play with any Class B team in Suffolk County.

But the road to a state title is undoubtedly less bumpy in Class C. A team that has straddled the line between the two classifications, Shoreham seized its opportunity as a C school last year by winning the third state title in program history.

As the Wildcats enter the 2013 season, they find themselves once again among the elite in the county. Seeded second in Division II, the Wildcats are the favorite in Class C.

But their window as a Class C school appears to be closing. Next year they’ll bump up to Class B after the state dropped the enrollment number for Class C schools. That could leave Shoreham in Class B for a considerable time going forward.

The opportunity is now.

“If we work at what we do best, we have a chance to have a successful season,” said Shoreham coach Tom Rotanz. “We feel pretty confident if they buy into it and they work hard, who knows what can happen?”

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While the Wildcats lost several key players from last year’s team like midfielder Trevor Brosco and goalkeeper Tyler Lutjen, they return a decent number of starters. And most of the players stepping into starting roles this year gained plenty of experience on the varsity last year. In senior Tim Rotanz the Wildcats feature one of the most dynamic players in the state. A University of Maryland recruit, Rotanz already owns the school record for career points. He tallied 91 last season, on the heels of a 110-point season as a sophomore. Barring any injury, he’s on pace to set the school record for career goals and assists this season.

Rotanz will play in the midfield and can also slide to attack. On man-down situations, he’ll even grab a long pole and play defense.

While Rotanz faces heavy pressure from opposing defenses, the Wildcats have plenty of wrinkles in the offense to spring him free and counter an overzealous defense. “If they run zone we put him right in the middle of the mix,” Tom Rotanz said. “As soon as he gets the ball, guys cut because they know he’s going to look crease and get it there.”

The Wildcats will have some new players on attack this year. Juniors Anthony Visintin and Hunter Hays will see increased roles this year alongside juniors Troy Miller and Sean Condron. All are in their second year on varsity.

Tim Rotanz, sophomore Ryan Bray and senior Dan Malave will form the first midfield line. Malave is in his fourth year on varsity. Bray played a big role last year in the playoffs with 8 goals. He tallied a hat trick in the Long Island championship against Cold Spring Harbor, a 9-7 Shoreham win.

Junior Mike Loscalzo will be the player who gets it all started on face-offs. Loscalzo had to take pressure face-offs last year, especially in the state final when Shoreham lost Brosco in the opening minutes to a concussion. Loscalzo will also run on the second midfield line with sophomore Dan Hughes. Miller may bump up to the midfield line with them at times as well. Jake Kavanagh will backup Loscalzo on face-offs.

On defense the Wildcats return seniors Ryan Stern and Alex Houlihan. Both players are in their third year on varsity. Junior Tyler Anderson will play defense as well, along with senior Nick Mazzone. Junior Brett Friedman will play a long-pole middie. “He has amazing speed,” Rotanz said. “That kid can flat out fly and run all day.”

Senior Scott Lavey will rotate with Friedman. Rotanz has liked what he’s seen so far from senior Christian Palazotto and junior Tom Tatarian between the pipes. The two could end up splitting time.

The competition in Division II figures to be as tough as ever. Rotanz said he expects as many as the top nine teams to be able to beat each other.

The Wildcats open the season with a challenging game Wednesday against Westhampton Beach, the preseason No. 5 seed.

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