Auburn Mountainview High School boys soccer coach Jason Shrader calls it the circle of influence.
Some of his players are more involved than others. But he said he’s never had a player with a bigger circle than that of senior midfielder Christian Rotter.
“A lot of people might have a small one and they just wander around. His is the biggest I’ve seen,” Shrader said. “His circle of influence is so huge.
“Sometimes it’s to our detriment because he’s out of position. But most of the time it’s good.”
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Rotter leads Auburn Mountainview with 16 assists and had six goals. This year’s 3A South Puget Sound League’s offensive player of the year also helped the Lions decorate the school’s gymnasium — they’ll add some banners for winning their first 3A SPSL title and on Saturday won their first 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict title.
AMV (16-2-0) faces Roosevelt (13-4-2) in the first round of the 3A state tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
To think Rotter didn’t even play soccer last year.
He competed in track and field instead.
Talk about a circle of influence: Rotter (pronounced ROW-der) placed eighth in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the 3A state track and field championships last year, then took 33rd in the state cross country meet this past fall and played on Auburn Mountainview’s boys basketball team that won the district title and reached the state tournament for the first time in school history.
But he said his passion has always been soccer.
He approached teammate Erik DeAnda before the season, allowing the junior forward to be the first to know he was coming back to school soccer after the one-year hiatus.
“He says, ‘Guess what? I’m baaack,’ ” said DeAnda, who leads the Lions with 24 goals.
“I think it was mainly that I missed it,” Rotter said. “I didn’t think I would miss school ball a ton and I missed it, and I missed a lot of the guys and I wanted one more experience.”
If Auburn Mountainview reached the 3A state quarterfinals without Rotter last year, just how far could it go with him?
Rotter in the offseason plays with Pac Northwest Soccer Club, which this year didn’t make it out of pool play in the Youth Soccer Washington State Championships. That sour note, as well as watching AMV’s soccer team reach state from the sidelines moved Rotter enough to decide to play school soccer one last time.
“I didn’t want that to be how I remembered my last high school experience before college,” said Rotter, who signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Western Washington University.
Rotter, who is 5 feet 10, played varsity soccer for the Lions as a freshman and sophomore, but said he diverted to track and field because he was tired of his getting pushed around by bigger juniors and seniors and all the nagging injuries that resulted.
Shrader didn’t start off Rotter as a captain this year because he had the core of last year’s team returning. But he decided to award Rotter that distinction last week.
“I knew he had earned it from probably after the first game,” said Shrader, a lieutenant colonel and JROTC teacher at Auburn Mountainview. “He’s been invaluable in terms of the intensity and leadership and leading by example — some of those things that you just need someone to do.”
Not that it was Rotter’s goal.
“Something I’ve said on my club team and a couple of these guys — the only difference being a captain and a regular player is you are wearing an arm band, and you get to flip the coin,” Rotter said. “Every team in the state has two or three captains, but not every team has great leaders. I wanted to be a leader.”
Rotter has predominately played in the midfield, but can slide to forward when needed, as he did in AMV’s 3-2 comeback win over Hazen in the bidistrict semifinals.
“The ball just sticks to his feet, DeAnda said. “He’s the one guy I’ve known you can always count on to make a big play when you need it. When he’s running with the ball down the line, you can hear the coaches yelling, ‘Get two on him, get two!’ ”
Rotter said that win against Hazen, with AMV scoring two goals in the final eight minutes, is among the top five he’s ever played. But not close to the top two, occupied by a pair of intense club matches.
But if the Lions reach the 3A state championship this year?
“Oh, if we get there, no matter what the outcome, that would definitely be the funnest game I’ll have been a part of,” he said. “But we have to get there first.”