March 22, 2005

Gauchos Ink One of the Top Recruiting Classes in the Nation

March 22, 2005

Santa Barbara, Calif. - Intent on returning to the NCAA National Championship stage, the 2004 National Finalist UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team announced its early recruiting class for the 2005 season. The Gauchos welcome eight players who have committed to wear the blue and gold next season, highlighted by U.S. Under-17 & 18 National Team standout Eric Avila (Encinitas, Calif./IMG Academy).

In addition to the attacking midfielder Avila on the national level, UCSB has also signed Alfonso Motagalvan (Gilroy, Calif./Gilroy HS), a midfielder from the Region IV Olympic Development squad. From the state ODP level, the Gauchos have inked forward Paul Kierstead (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS), goalkeeper Ryan Kenny (Clovis, Calif./Buchanan HS), and midfielder Jon Curry (Sacramento, Calif./Christian Brothers HS).

Santa Barbara has also received National Letters of Intent from Southern California standouts Chris Pontius (Yorba Linda, Calif./Servite HS) and Patrick Monahan (San Diego, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS). Santa Barbara City College midfielder Matt Williams (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), who was originally slated to attend UCSB last season, will be making the short trip across the city next year after spending on season with the Vaqueros.

"Not only is this year's recruiting class one of our largest ever, it is also the deepest we have ever seen at UCSB in terms of talent," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "Even though we graduated such a skilled class, we [Vom Steeg and assistant coach Leo Chappel] feel several of these student-athletes have the ability to step right in and make an immediate impact early in their careers."

Avila and Kierstead will be expected to make an immediate impact up top with the graduation of Drew McAthy and Neil Jones. In the prep ranks both have displayed the capabilities to do just that. Avila has earned seven caps in his international career with the United States, playing on some of the best youth squads that have ever taken to the pitch for the U.S. Having spent the last two years in the United States' National Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, the all-purpose offensive weapon has appeared in 15 total matches for the U-17's, more than any other player from the '87 Boys class, including Major League Soccer star Freddy Adu.

Kierstead, who played three seasons for the Arizona State ODP team, was a two-time All-State honoree having guided Mountain Pointe a pair of Central Region Championships and a berth in this year's Arizona State Championship. Named MPHS's most valuable player both his junior and senior years, he set a new school record as a senior with 25 goals, in addition to dishing out 15 assists.

Motagalvan, on the other hand, should make a huge impact in the midfield, coming out of the prep ranks as one of the top offensive weapons, not only in the West, but in the nation. A two-time NSCAA/adidas High School All-American, Motagalvan is also a member of the Super Y-League Select National Team that routinely offers the U.S. Youth National Teams their toughest competition within the States. At the club

level he helped lead Santa Clara Sporting Ruckus to the State Cup finals, and he led Gilroy in assists from his sophomore season on.

Bolstering the midfield out wide will be Curry, whose older brother Greg has been with the Gauchos since 2003. In addition to his duties with the Cal-North State squad San Juan Predators club team, Curry was just as big a standout for Christian Brothers as his brother. A two-time All-CIF stopper, Curry was named the Sierra Valley Conference Most Valuable Player and First Team All-Metro Section after leading the Falcons to the conference championship and an appearance in the CIF Sectional Quarterfinals. Despite playing a defensive role, Curry netted 14 goals and assisted on 23 others for CBS this past season.

Adding even more to Gauchos' returning talented midfield duo of Freshman All-American Tyler Rosenlund and All-Big West honoree Nate Boyden, Chris Pontius will become the Servite to roam the middle of the pitch in UCSB uniform in the last three seasons. SHS's second leading scorer all-time with 39 career goals will join Matt Kubota ('00-'03) and junior Jeff Murphy who will be returning next season after taking a one-year hiatus to pursue an Engineering degree. Pontius was named MVP of the Serra League, often regarded as one of the strongest prep leagues in the nation, and First Team All-CIF Division I this past year after captaining Servite to the sectional quarterfinals.

Defender Patrick Monahan will try to help fill the void in the back left by the graduation of New Zealand International star and All-American Tony Lochhead. Fortunately Monahan, a four-time member of the Cal-South State Select Team, will have the chance to play alongside Freshman All-American Andy Iro, and First Team All-Big West junior Pat Scott, who has decided to return next year for his fifth year of eligibility. Serving as La Costa Canyon's team captain for the past two seasons, Monahan helped guide his team to a pair of appearances in the CIF Finals as a sophomore and junior. In the club ranks he played for the San Diego Surf where he was a teammate current Gaucho Brennan Tennelle.

Midfielder Chris Hughes, who quickly developed into one of UCSB's top marking players last season as a walk-on, has also elected to return for his fifth year of eligibility, giving Vom Steeg a total of three prior letterwinners returning for 2005 who were originally not expected to be on the roster.

In between the pipes, Ryan Kenny will be an excellent compliment to heir apparent Kyle Reynish. As member of the Cal-North ODP squad Kenny has demonstrated the ability that helped him lead Buchanan HS a CIF Division I Central Section Championship as a sophomore and a repeat appearance in the championship game as a junior. The three-time All-County selection also minds the net for the California Odyssey of the USL Super Y-League, the nation's top youth division.

And with the addition of Williams (see recruit release from last season for more details), it gives the Gauchos eight total players who have committed to play at UCSB early in the signing period. Even with as good as the incoming class looks to be and the return of 14 players from this year's National Finalist squad, including six starters, Vom Steeg and assistant coach Leo Chappel are still looking for two more field players as well as another goalkeeper to complete the 2005 roster later this summer.

"Our success this past season, playing the National Championship, helped to solidify this year's recruiting class, but the rewards will really be felt with next year's recruiting class, and years to come," commented Vom Steeg in closing.

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