March 6, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Continuing to build on the success of the program in recent years, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team announced its early recruiting class for the 2006 season. Among the eight players that have committed to play for the Gauchos next season and form a class of recruits that ranks in the top ten in the nation, are a national team member, three regional standouts and two all-state performers.
Goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Paris St. Germain), a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team, has agreed to wear the blue and gold in 2006.
In addition to Rueckner on the national level, UCSB has also signed three players who have been members of the Region IV Olympic Development squad. Net minder Jason Badger (Martinez, Calif./Alhambra HS), as well as forwards Drew Gleason (Merced, Calif./Buhach Colony HS) and Guillermo Jalomo (Fresno, Calif./Bullard HS), will join the Gauchos next season.
Santa Barbara has also received National Letters of Intent from Bongomin Otii (Denver, Colo./Regis Jesuit HS) and C.J. Cintas (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii/Hawaii Prep Academy), both earning all-state honors this year.
Villa Park High School standouts Jordan Kaplan and David Walker of Orange, Calif. round out the list of incoming freshmen.
"This recruiting class is a direct result of playing for a national championship in 2004," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "When we made in to the Final Four, all the top recruits had already committed to schools at that point. In this year's class, we have signed the kids that saw us perform at that level. This is the best all-around collection of players we have ever had."
Bryant Rueckner and Jason Badger will join incumbent keeper Kyle Reynish, who allowed the fewest goals in the Big West Conference in 2005, to make-up one of the top goalkeeping trios in the country. Both newcomers have proven to be very reliable between the posts. Reuckner has spent the last two seasons in the United States' National Residency Program and started 27 matches for the U-17's, including every match during the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament and the U-17 World Championships in Peru. He compiled a 7-2-1 record in international play and solidified his position as the squad's top goalkeeper.
Badger, who played two seasons for the Region IV ODP team, was the squads' starter during Interregionals after earning the highest ranking among all keepers coming out of camp. A current member of the San Francisco PDL team, he also directed the DVSC Black Pearl club team to three-straight California State-Cup Championships.
Up front, Guillermo Jolamo and Bongomin Otii should make a huge impact, helping fill the void left with the graduation of All-Big West First Team forward Ivan Becerra and Jonathan Davis, who ranked third on the team with five goals in 2005. Jalomo, a three-time all-league and two-time all-section forward at Bullard High School, is expected to contribute as a freshman at the forward spot. He was named the 2005 CMAC Offensive Player of the Year after compiling 17 goals and 16 assists as a senior.
Another player expected to make a difference up front will be Otii. A Colorado All-State selection, he was the leading goal scorer at last year's Interregionals in Las Vegas with six. Otii recorded 17 goals and five assists his senior year at Denver's Regis Jesuit High School.
Continuing in the Gaucho tradition of attacking from the backfield with players such as international star and All-American Tony Lochhead, UCSB has signed Drew Gleason to strengthen the left side. A four-year varsity starter and the reigning Sun-Star Player of the Year, Gleason split time between his Clovis Odyssey club team and Buhach Colony High School last year, where he guided the Thunder back to the Sac-Joaquin Section title game. He leaves Buhach Colony a four-year All-Valley Oak League and two-year all-district performer after tallying 10 goals and 23 assists his senior season. Gleason is a true field general who has also played on the Region IV ODP team for the last two years.
Strengthening the Gauchos' returning talented midfield duo of 2005 Herman Trophy Candidate Tyler Rosenlund and Big West Freshman of the Year Eric Avila, will be C.J. Cintas, Jordan Kaplan and David Walker. Cintas, one of Hawaii's premiere players, has earned all-state honors from his sophomore year on. He was the BIIF leading scorer last season and was also recognized as one of the state's top five players at the 2006 Hawaii State Championships after finishing his senior season with 16 goals and 18 assists.
Kaplan and Walker are both standouts on the nationally recognized Irvine Strikers club team. The duo led the Strikers to consecutive U-15 and U-16 State Cup Championships and to a Nike Premiere Cup Title. Kaplan, an All-Century League forward at Villa Park, he tied a school record with 20 goals as a senior. Walker, a two-time All-Century League midfielder, he was named the league MVP last year after amassing 16 goals and 21 assists.
The Gauchos have a total of eight players who have committed to play for UCSB early in the signing period. As good as the incoming class looks to be and the return of 16 players from this year's squad, including six starters led by All-American defender Andy Iro, Vom Steeg has the pieces together needed to make a return to the Final Four in 2006.
"We have assembled an exceptional group of individual talent and all of these players have achieved great things so far in their careers." Vom Steeg said. "But more importantly, we look for kids that are coachable and willing to be part of a team and I feel like we have accomplished that."