Gauchos Bolster Roster with Eight NLI Signings for the Fall

Gauchos Bolster Roster with Eight NLI Signings for the Fall

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – With UC Santa Barbara hosting the 2018 College Cup this fall, the UCSB men's soccer team took a step towards fulfilling its hopes of participating with the announcement of eight National Letter of Intent signings by head coach Tim Vom Steeg on Monday afternoon. 

Highlighting the recruiting class will be a trio of transfers that includes Hunter Ashworth (San Francisco), Thibault Candia (Temple), and Faouzi Taieb (St. Francis Brooklyn). Both Candia and Taieb were All-Region selections at the Division I level, with Taieb earning Defensive Player of the Year accolades in the Northeast Conference. Ashworth, meanwhile, has significant international experience playing with the U-20 New Zealand National Team.

At the prep level, the Gauchos add a pair of highly-touted local standouts in Ben Roach (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Santa Barbara HS) and Oscar Ferreira (Goleta, Calif. / Dos Pueblos HS) to go along with a trio of talented prospects out of Arizona in Carter Clemmensen (Paradise Valley, Ariz. / Brophy Prep), Sam Fletcher (Phoenix, Ariz. / Brophy Prep) and Zade Ghani (Phoenix, Ariz. / Notre Dame Prep). 

The incoming talent will compliment a strong core of Gaucho returners that features Big West Freshman of the Year Rodney Michael, all-conference selections in freshmen Adrian Adames and Alan Carrillo, as well as 2016 Big West Midfielder of the Year Kevin Feucht, who plans to return after missing all of the 2017 season due to injury. Midfielder Joseph Ammer will also be in the fold after missing a significant time of 2017 to injury. 

Thanks in part to strong recruiting, UCSB has maintained one of the best programs on the West Coast since Vom Steeg took over in 1999. In that time, the Gauchos have taken home the 2006 National Championship, 10 Big West Championships, two College Cup berths, and 14 postseason appearances. UCSB has consistently brought in high-level recruits from around the world, as evidenced by the 10 Big West Freshman of the Year awards won by Gauchos since 2002, by far the most in the league. 

Stay tuned to in the coming weeks, as the UCSB men's soccer program is planning to announce the signing of three more players to round out the recruiting class. 

Brief bios and scouting reports for each of UCSB's newest stars can be found below. 


Hunter Ashworth

Height: 6-5

Position: Defender

Year (in fall): Redshirt Sophomore

Hometown: Laguna Beach, Calif.

Previous School: University of San Francisco

Previous Club: LA Galaxy Academy/Pateadores Academy

Bio: Member of the U-20 New Zealand National Team, Hunter Ashworth has a tremendous amount of experience at the international level. The 6-foot-5 defender recently competed in the FIFA U20 World Cup in Cheonan, South Korea where he scored a goal in a 3-1 win over Honduras. Additionally, he helped lead New Zealand to the Oceania Football Confederation Championships in the summer of 2016. Ashworth will follow in the footsteps of former Gaucho and New Zealand native Michael Boxall, who currently plays in the MLS for Minnesota United.

Tim's Take: "At 6-foot-5, his physical prowess allows him to dominate the field, especially in the air, and he showcased those talents playing and starting every game at the World Cup in South Korea last summer. He will be one of the best defensive players in the Big West."



Thibault Candia

Height: 5-9

Weight: 145

Position: Forward

Year (in fall): Junior

Hometown: Nantes, France

Previous School: Temple University

Previous Club: Angers SCO

Rankings: No. 19 in American Athletic Conference (Top Drawer)

Bio: Thibault Candia started all 17 matches for the Temple Owls in 2017, leading the team with six goals and 13 points during the season. He also recorded a team-high 41 shots, with 19 on goal, and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Region in addition to being named an All-Conference selection. Prior to his year at Temple, Candia scored 11 goals and 10 assists playing with League 1 French Club Angers SCO and before that tallied 45 goals and 27 assists in three years with French Club Stade Rennais. 

Tim's Take: "We are very excited about adding Thibault to our program because of his dynamic play, especially around the 18-yard box. He can play several different positions up the field, but wherever he plays he will be able to contribute both goals and assists and will be a great compliment to our returning players."



Faouzi Taieb

Height: 6-3

Weight: 185

Position: Defender

Year (in fall): Junior

Hometown: Marseille, France

Previous School: St. Francis Brooklyn College

Rankings: No. 2 in Northeast Conference (Top Drawer)

Bio: Faouzi Taieb was named the ECAC & NEC Defensive Player of the year after anchoring a St. Francis Brooklyn defense that allowed just two goals during conference play. Taieb, a 6-foot-3 defender, was also named to the All-Northeast Region First Team as a sophomore and was the seventh Terrier in program history to earn NEC Rookie of the Year honors. He played 34 matches for the Terries and scored five goals, three of which were game winners.  

Tim's Take: "Faouzi is a key part of what we're trying to do next year, particularly with our defense. As the Defensive Player of the Year in the Northeast Conference, we're adding not only the best defender in that conference, but one of the best defenders in the nation. Furthermore, he brings two years of Division I and NCAA Tournament experience which will be a valued addition to our team."



Ben Roach

Height: 6-3

Weight: 175

Position: Goalkeeper

Year (in fall): Freshman

Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.

High School: Santa Barbara High School

Previous Club: Santa Barbara Soccer Club

Bio: Local product out of Santa Barbara High School, goalkeeper Ben Roach has anchored the defense for the Dons, who are currently ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division I. Roach has recorded 11 shutouts this season and recently earned MVP honors at the South Torrance Tournament. Roach also competes for Santa Barbara Soccer Club and played for their United States Soccer Development Academy.

Tim's Take: "Ben is a local star who has developed into an excellent goalkeeper. He has a combination of great size with soft feet while at the same time being very technical. We have high expectations of Ben to develop into of the great goalies at UCSB."

Oscar Ferreira

Height: 5-5


Position: Forward

Year (in fall): Freshman

Hometown: Goleta, Calif.

High School: Dos Pueblos High School

Previous Club: Santa Barbara Soccer Club

Bio: Oscar Ferreira, is a 5-foot-5, fleet-footed forward out of nearby Dos Pueblos High School. The Goleta, Calif. native earned Offensive MVP honors for the Chargers and as a senior leads the team with 10 goals and three assists. Playing as a member of local Santa Barbara Soccer Club, Ferreira helped lead his team to the 2017 CSL Premier Championship.  

Tim's Take: "Oscar has a tremendous work rate and has shown success in his ability to take players on in 1v1 situations out wide. He will be a very effective player at this level and we believe he can be one of the best out wide players in the Big West Conference."




Carter Clemmensen

Height: 6-3

Weight: 185

Position: Forward

Year (in fall): Freshman

Hometown: Paradise Valley, Ariz.

High School: Brophy College Preparatory

Previous Club: Sereno SC

Rankings: No. 9 in Southwest Region (Top Drawer), 3-Star Rating (Top Drawer) 

Bio: Named an All-American by, Carter Clemmensen is a creative, high-volume scorer as indicated by his 112 career goals at Brophy College Preparatory. As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound forward scored 36 goals to go along with eight assists while leading his team to the State Playoffs and finishing as a finalist for Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year. This season, Clemmensen has led Brophy Prep all the way to the State Championship game.

Tim's Take: "Carter Clemmensen has been the most prolific scorer in Arizona over the past three years and has a great combination of size, athleticism and skill. Players like him are hard to find at that position and we're very excited to add a player with his upside to UCSB."



Sam Fletcher

Height: 5-9

Weight: 155

Position: Midfielder

Year (in fall): Freshman

Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.

High School: Brophy College Preparatory 

Previous Club: SC del Sol

Rankings: No. 19 in Southwest Region (Top Drawer)

Bio: Sam Fletcher, a versatile 5-foot-9 midfielder, has been a starter throughout his career at Brophy Prep while leading his team in assists each of the past three seasons. An All-State selection by Top Drawer last season, Fletcher is ranked No. 19 in the Southwest Region and has led Brophy Prep to the State Championship game in 2018.

Tim's Take: "Sam, along with Carter Clemmensen, both come from Brophy Prep, which is a school that has produced a lot of successful Division I soccer players. Sam is a hard-working, two-way midfielder that will come in and immediately push other players in our program to be better."


Zade Ghani

Height: 6-1

Weight: 170

Position: Midfielder

Year (in fall): Freshman

Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.

High School: Notre Dame Prep 

Previous Club: SC del Sol

Rankings: 2-Star (Top Drawer)

Bio: 6-foot-1 midfielder Zade Ghani is another key Arizona prospect that the Gauchos will add in 2018. The Phoenix native has played for Notre Dame Prep and SC del Sol and was among the standouts at the US Youth Olympic Development Program this past year, leading all of Region 4 in scoring.

Tim's Take: "Zade is a very versatile player who can help us in several positions because of his size and athleticism. He is another Arizona player that will add to our depth over the next four years."