After a disappointing 2008 campaign, Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg and the UCSB men’s soccer team have made some key additions in their new recruiting class. By the looks of it, this could be a great year.

Named the number-11 recruiting class in the country by Soccer America, the newcomers feature a host of defenders and junior college-level transfers. Vom Steeg thinks they fill his squad’s vacancies nicely.

“Where we mostly needed help was our back line,” he said. “We feel like it’s been addressed. … What we did with our defense was go after players that have a lot of experience and talent.”

Vom Steeg knows something about talent. The two-time national coach of the year has seen a lot of it in his tenure at UCSB, which has featured two College Cup appearances and one championship. He said that he believes this group has all the essentials to succeed at the highest level.

Three of the players coming in hail from Yavapai College, where they won two consecutive Division I National Junior College Athletic Association titles. These players — defenders Evan McNiel and Chris Hunter and goalkeeper Sam Hayden — should compete for starting roles in the hopes of bolstering what has been a weak UCSB defense.

“They’re all key players on a team that went 26-0 and won back-to- back championships,” Vom Steeg said. “Anyone that plays that well in big games like they did are going to be players that can help us.”

From the high school ranks, recruits of note include talented midfielders Christian Ramirez, Nic Ryan and Robbie Boyd. All have experience playing at high levels, and Boyd was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-America Team.

“Obviously the strength of the team will be our midfield,” Vom Steeg said. “And even though we really like our midfielders we have coming in, we’re not expecting them to have to contribute right away.”

All in all, UCSB has signed 10 letters of intent — though there have been hints at more to come — with five from high school and five junior college transfers. Combined with last year’s massive 16-person class, this season’s Gaucho squad should be very young and extremely competitive.