Maryland men's lacrosse midfielder Tim Rotanz first met goalkeeper Dan Morris the summer entering his senior year at Shoreham-Wading River High School in New York. Morris was between the pipes at the Warrior 40 skills competition in Colorado. Rotanz vividly recalls he snuck the ball past Morris on several occasions.
The pair crossed paths again at the annual Under Armour All-American game, but neither knew then that they would be living together their freshmen years in College Park. In Charles Hall, Morris lived in the room next to Rotanz, with former Terps attackman Colin Heacock. Morris and Rotanz have lived together since.
The lone players remaining on the roster from their top-ranked recruiting class, Morris and Rotanz have guided the Terps to the top overall seed in the Big Ten tournament. Their chemistry has enabled them to anchor Maryland's young core entering Thursday's matchup against No. 11 Rutgers, providing coach John Tillman's team with a spark it hopes to carry into the NCAA tournament later this month.
"The way they do their business, those guys are as steady as it gets," Tillman said. "I tease them for being the old men. I have great respect and admiration for those two guys."
Rotanz and Morris' chemistry on the field is the product of the time they've spent together, but they've also spent a lot of time apart this year. Their class schedules don't frequently overlap; Rotanz and Morris typically won't see each other until practice starts, or they begin watching film.
"Dan's definitely very easy-going," Rotanz said. "He's pretty level-headed. We've been living together for four years and we've never gotten in each other's face."
When Rotanz and Morris get home, they'll break down practices and discuss lacrosse news and scores. Then, they watch "Impractical Jokers," "South Park," ESPN or another lacrosse game. Morris said they would be OK with a TV package that only included four channels.
"We like video games, music and funny videos on YouTube," Morris said. "We're always chilling together. It's been a good combination living with him the last four years."
The relationship has also been beneficial on the practice field. As sophomores, neither Rotanz nor Morris played much. Rotanz was sidelined with vertigo, and Morris was backing up former goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr. Still, that season fueled their development.
Rotanz worked to understand exactly how Morris prepares to face an opponent's top shooting threats and tried to learn the best ways to attack goalkeepers with different styles. Morris gained insight from Rotanz sharing what he sees as a shooter.
Last year, the duo helped Maryland to its first national championship since 1975, and is hoping to repeat this season.
Morris said Rotanz's lacrosse IQ has enabled him to mentor some of Maryland's younger players. He's been a valuable member of the Terps attack, scoring 15 goals and posting 13 assists. Rotanz also gives Maryland flexibility on defense, occasionally remaining on the field to give a teammate a break. He scored twice in Maryland's win against No. 7 Johns Hopkins last weekend.
Meanwhile, Morris provides the Terps stability in the net. He's started every contest in his fifth season, recording 13 saves against the Blue Jays in one of his best outings this year. Their familiarity has added a boost to Maryland's lineup.
"We're very lucky to have them back for fifth years," Tillman said. "They're guys that set such a good standard with what they do more so than what they say."