After a No. 2 finish in conference and a trip to the third round of the NCAA playoffs last season, the UCSB men’s soccer team will add five new members to its roster this coming fall in hopes of expanding on the successes of 2011.
Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s 2012 recruiting class is highlighted by midfielder Ema Boateng, a Ghana native who was recently named the 2011-2012 Gatorade National Boys Player of the Year. Joining Boateng at Harder Stadium in the fall will be New Jersey native Nick Savino (Moorestown High School), as well as three college transfers: Creighton’s senior forward Dion Acoff, Belhaven University’s junior forward Achille Campion and Oregon State’s redshirt freshman defender Brandon Brockway.
At Cate School in Carpinteria, Calif., Boateng was able to lead the Rams to a 30-1-1 record over the past two seasons, including an undefeated 22-0-0 record last season. Boateng scored 26 goals and notched 18 assists in the Rams’ journey to the California State Championship this past season, and was ranked No. 9 overall on College Soccer News’ 2012 high school recruiting list.
“Ema is very familiar to most soccer fans in town,” Vom Steeg said to TopDrawerSoccer.com. “He is a dynamic player who has an exceptional left foot. We see him playing more on the left hand side, though we also look at him in the middle; he can beat players off the dribble, he can score goals.”
Boateng will be able to immediately have an impact on a Gaucho squad that needs more legs in the midfield position after losing multiple senior leaders last season.
“Ema will go a long way toward replacing a couple spots that we lose, one being (James) Kiffe on the left side and he could also potentially help to replace what (Luis) Silva did for us,” Vom Steeg told TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Savino will be joining UCSB as a freshman ready to learn from next year’s senior goalkeeper and likely starter, André Grandt. Savino’s performance on the soccer pitch during his senior year earned him All-State New Jersey, All-South Jersey All-Star and All-Burlington County awards.
“With André (Grandt) being a senior and Austin (Mansker) coming off of his injury, we absolutely need another goalkeeper in our program that we feel can push the other goalies,” Vom Steeg said. “Even though Nick is young, because he is very aggressive and athletic, we feel that he is someone that will fight to get himself on the field and somebody that we can work with going forward.”
In addition to two highly regarded freshman additions, the UCSB coaching staff is able to bring on senior Acoff, who scored three goals last year for the Bluejays and was No. 4 on the team in shots on goal with a .341 percentage. Acoff is a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference standout and helped Creighton to a No. 2 finish in last year’s College Cup.
“He’s a dynamic, explosive player with great pace and the ability to beat you,” Vom Steeg told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “Against us (during the 2011 NCAA Third Round), I thought he was the best player on the field and I also thought he was very good at the Final Four.”
Campion comes to UCSB from Stella, France, and brings a new element of size to the Gaucho frontline. The 6’2”, 200-pound Campion tallied 17 goals and led his team with 61 shots and 33 shots on goal this past season.
Joining Campion on the far half of the pitch will be Brockway, who redshirted his freshman year at Oregon State and joins the Gauchos with four years of athletic eligibility remaining. At Todd Beamer High School in Tacoma, WA, Brockway was an All-League and All-Area honoree as a senior.
“With the departure of Tim Pontius to the Seattle Sounders, we are excited to have Brandon’s size, athleticism and passing ability to compliment our back line,” Vom Steeg told TopDrawerSoccer.com.
The Gauchos look forward to an exciting pre-season schedule in which they will host Westmont, Valparasio, UCLA and Harvard at home before beginning Big West Conference play. All home games will be played at Harder Stadium on the UCSB campus, with the Westmont match set as a season opener on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m.