March 31, 2004
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
Continuing its path to becoming one of the top soccer programs in the nation, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team added ten new players in the off season to compliment its 2003 squad that ended last season with a No. 12 national ranking. The Gauchos inked six incoming freshman to national letters of intent and added four highly touted transfers to bolster UCSB's roster that is now short six seniors from last year.
"This year's recruiting class was put together with the intention of competing for a national championship," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "We [UCSB coaching staff] made a promise to next year's senior class when we brought them in as freshman that we going to get the program to that level. So [assistant coach Leo Chappel] and I wanted to bring in experienced players who will make an immediate impact and help us achieve our goal of being able to compete for a national championship. We owe it to our team after coming so close this past season."
Keeping in line with Vom Steeg's goal of adding players who will help UCSB achieve their goal of reaching the Final Four next year, the Gauchos will be joined in 2004 by a player from each of the past two NCAA Champions. Starting with the defending champion University of Indiana in forward Trey Meek (Indiana/Corona Del Mar, CA), and ending with the 2002 champion University of North Carolina in forward Jonathan Davis (UNC/Los Angeles, CA). With the addition of Meek and Davis to Santa Barbara's roster it now includes 15 players with NCAA Tournament experience.
"Jonathan Davis was our top recruit three years ago coming out of high school. He is an extremely gifted forward with speed, size, and strength," said Vom Steeg. While with the Tarheels Davis played in 40 matches, finishing fifth on the squad with four goals this past season. A high school All-American (Los Angeles, Calif./Westchester HS) he was a member of the United States' under-17 National Team at the age of 14. Vom Steeg also added, "His speed will help to diversify our attack and he will be a great compliment to Neil Jones and Drew McAthy up front."
A native of Southern California (Newport Harbor HS), Meek netted two goals with one assist during the Hoosiers' championship run this past season, playing behind one of the top players in the nation. An Academic All-Big Ten team member, "he is a proven goal scorer who is exceptional at taking players one-on-one," noted Vom Steeg. "With the addition of Davis and Meek (who will both enter as juniors) we feel like we can score goals in a lot of different ways and should be one of the most dangerous attacking teams in college soccer next season."
In addition to the Gauchos' two Division I transfers, Vom Steeg and Chappel are also bringing in a pair of highly skilled junior college players, Ivan Becerra from Los Angeles' Mission College, and Tino Nunez of Compton College.
An NSCAA Junior College All-American in 2003, Becerra netted 34 goals and tallied 19 assists in his two seasons at Mission College. This past season he helped lead the Eagles to a Western State Conference Championship and a No. 17 final NSCAA national ranking with an overall record of 15-1-5. "Ivan was the best junior college player in California this year," said Vom Steeg, "He possesses all of the qualities to be a great Division I player, size, speed, skill, and a powerful left foot. With the graduation of Matt Kubota he will give us a replacement on the left side either as an attacking midfielder or forward."
Nunez becomes the third player in the last three years to join the Gauchos from Compton College. Santa Barbara first brought in former Gaucho and LA Galaxy draftee Memo Arzate two years ago, and last season midfielder Efren Mata, a 2002 graduate of Compton CC, redshirted for UCSB. Scoring 14 goals for the Tartar's this past season, "Tino is a very strong and complete player who has a knack for finishing," commented assistant coach Leo Chappel. "He should help make an immediate impact in our attack."
With the success of former Gaucho and current Canadian World Cup team member Rob Friend, Santa Barbara inked three members of Canada's under-17 National Team to come play for the Gauchos in 2004. Incoming freshman Tyler Rosenlund (Port Coquitlam, BC), Myles Davis (Delta, BC), and Andrew Proctor (Burnaby, BC) are three of the top players for Canada's Juniors who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2003 FIFA Junior World Cup by just one goal.
With a combined 36 international caps between the three of them, Rosenlund, Davis, and Proctor will bring a wealth of international and big game experience to the UCSB lineup. In fact, Davis and Rosenlund both hold more caps (15) each at the under-17 level than any other player in Canadian soccer history.
A midfielder at the international level Rosenlund, "is a very intelligent and creative attacking midfielder who has a work rate that is second to none," stated Chappel. "He will be a great compliment to Efren Mata in the Gaucho midfield."
Proctor, who also earned a National Championship in lacrosse at the junior level and was recruited by Syracuse, gives Santa Barbara another scoring threat, adding to its already potent forward lineup. According to Chappel, "Andrew is a gritty, strong, and dangerous attacking wide midfielder or striker with great pace and quickness who will make an immediate impact in the midfield or up front."
Unlike Procter and Rosenlund, Davis will help bolster the Santa Barbara defense. "He is a very smart and athletic left back who can also play as an inside defender," said Chappel, "he is a solid player and will be a great compliment to Tony Lochhead."
Rounding out the Gauchos' 2004 recruiting class are another trio of freshman, Chuck Anderson (La Costa HS) and Brennan Tennelle (Scripps Ranch HS), both out of San Diego, California, and Matt Williams (San Luis Obispo HS) from San Luis Obispo. All three players represent two of the top club soccer programs not only in California, but in the nation, Tennelle and Anderson with the San Diego Surf, and Williams with the Irvine Strikers.
Named to the NSCAA's High School All-Region team in 2002, Williams was a three-time All-San Luis Obispo County and two-time All-Northern League selection as a defender with the Tigers. "Matt was a stand-out prep player in San Luis Obispo, he is extremely athletic and very versatile. His athleticism will make him a very good college player and an important addition to our program," stated Vom Steeg.
Chuck Anderson will be coming to UCSB one season after guiding La Costa High School to a CIF Division I Championship. Named First Team All-North County Conference and All-CIF as a senior, Anderson has been a member of the Cal-South Olympic Development Program player pool for the past two years. Vom Steeg noted that Anderson "is a lot like former Gaucho standout Galen Donaldson, he is a big strong defender but has a quick first step and is very intelligent. He is in a position to compete for the spot at center back."
A two-time All-Western League selection at Scripps Ranch High School, Tennelle was named his team's MVP each of the past two seasons. A member of the 2001 Cal-South ODP squad, Tennelle also helped guide the Surf to a state championship that same year. Currently a forward and midfielder he is expected to play a more defensive role at UCSB said Vom Steeg, "he is extremely quick and very tough, and we believe that after one year of maturing Brennan will be in a position to replace senior Jon Apilado as an attacking player out of the back."
The addition of these ten players to UCSB's roster completes their recruiting class for the upcoming 2004 season.