SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A Top 5 ranking from Top Drawer Soccer -- the highest ranking in the Big West Conference -- is stamped on the freshman signing class of Head coach Tim Vom Steeg and the UCSB men's soccer staff.
Included among the new players are Santa Barbara-area prep and academy standouts, two US National Team players, a pair of top-25 nationally-ranked players, a trio of four-star recruits, and a club national champion.
"We've added six freshmen who have played at the highest level of amateur soccer and a few with international experience," said Vom Steeg. "We continue to add exceptionally talented student-athletes that fans in Santa Barbara won't want to miss seeing."
Capsules and bios for the Gauchos' incoming freshmen can be found below.
Make sure to check back tomorrow for information on more additions to UCSB's 2015 signing class including Top Drawer Soccer's "#1 Transfer of 2015".
Justin Vom Steeg - Goalkeeper
Previous School / Club: San Marcos HS / Real So Cal
Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Class of 2015 Ranking: No. 23 national, No. 2 goalkeeper, No. 3 SoCal Region (Top Drawer), No. 58 national (College Soccer News)
According to Top Drawer Soccer, Justin is a four-star recruit, the No. 2 goalkeeping prospect in the nation, the No. 3 player in the Southern California region, and the No. 23 player nationwide. He is coming off a season with Real Socal that earned him West Region Goalkeeper of the Year honors from US Soccer. Tim's eldest son has also served on the United States Men's Soccer National Team at the U14, U15, and U17 levels. He recently received a call-up to the U-18 National Team, where he will play in the Copa Chivas Tournament over the next week.
Geoffrey Acheampong - Forward
Former School / Club: Cate School / Santa Barbara Soccer Club
Hometown: Carpinteria, Calif.
Class of 2015 Ranking: No. 23 national (College Soccer News), No. 9 SoCal Region, No. 24 forward, No. 83 national (Top Drawer Soccer)
Perhaps the most decorated of UCSB's incoming recruits, Acheampong has won a US Youth Soccer Cup Championship with Santa Barbara Soccer Club since coming stateside via the Right to Dream Academy in 2011. With SBSC, he was the team captain and key offensive creator, even scoring the game-winning goal in the Cup Championship. Geoffrey has starred for Cate School as well, where he is one of the favorites to take home CIF Player of the Year after his senior season exploits. The creative and dangerous forward's style of play brings to mind former UCSB player Ema Boateng, another Right to Dream graduate with a rocket for a left foot. The dangerous winger chose to attend UCSB in part to further his already-strong bond with the Santa Barbara community. He has been ranked as high as the No. 23 player in his class (College Soccer News).
Sam Strong - Defender
Previous School / Club: San Marcos High School / Real So Cal
Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
The aptly named Strong will be coming to Santa Barbara after a standout club career with Real So Cal. A three-star recruit per Top Drawer, Strong has a well-rounded game that will allow him to play at any of the four positions in the back. Already an adept defender, Strong began to involve him offensively with Real So Cal in his final season with the U-18 squad. Starting in 17 games, Strong was a fixture off set pieces, scoring six goals for the season, which ranked second on the playoff-reaching team.
Kostadin Moni – Midfielder
Previous School / Club: Forest Hills Eastern High School / Chicago Fire Academy
Hometown: Bridgeview, Ill.
Class of 2015 ranking: No. 36 national (College Soccer News), No. 3 Great Lakes Region, No. 13 forward, No. 40 national (Top Drawer Soccer)
An attacking midfielder from suburban Chicago with a nose for goal, "Kosti" plays club for the Chicago Fire Academy, where he has four goals in 10 appearances this season. He spent the majority of academy career with the CSA Wolves Academy, playing for the club between 2011-14. In the 2012-13 season, Moni scored 11 goals en route to a 22-8-4 record and a division championship. His strong play with the Wolves led to a call-up to the US U-17 Men's National Team camp in spring 2013 alongside teammate-to-be Justin Vom Steeg. In 2013-14, Moni collected four goals in 16 starts for the Wolves whlie winning another division championship.
Cody Gibson – Forward
Previous School / Club: Bellevue High School / Crossfire Premier
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
Class of 2015 Ranking: No. 15 Pacific Northwest Region
Gibson, a three-star forward from Bellevue, Wash., has really blossomed as a striker since scoring five goals in the 2013-14 season, as Gibson has gone on to find the back of the net 11 times for the U-18s in just 20 games in 2014-15. Thanks in part to Cody's goal-scoring record, Crossfire finds itself just one point behind the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy for first place in the Northwest Division.
Evan Schwartz – Midfielder
Previous School / Club: Corona Del Mar High School / Strikers FC Irvine B17 Caligiuri
Hometown: Newport Beach, Calif.
Like current Gaucho Axel Mendez, Evan Schwartz was successful at both the high school and academy levels, playing key minutes for Corona Del Mar HS and U-17 team of the Irvine-based Strikers FC Academy. In his senior season at Corona Del Mar, he played a key role in helping his team go undefeated in league play. With the Gauchos, he will slot in as a depth midfielder.