March 8, 2007

Defending National Champion Gauchos Sign Two To National Letters of Intent

March 8, 2007

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Fresh off the success of the program in 2006, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team announced its early recruiting class for the 2007 season. Goalkeeper Kristopher Minton (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro HS), an All-CIF performer and standout from the nationally ranked Irvine Strikers Soccer Club and Joseph Eubanks (Denver, Colo./J.K. Mullen High School), a member of the Region IV Olympic Development squad, have agreed to wear the blue and gold in 2007.

The signings of Minton and Eubanks come a week after the Gauchos added talented University of San Diego transfer Ciaran O'Brien to the midfield for 2007.

"With the addition of two very talented players in Minton and Eubanks, we feel like we have found two guys with tremendous potential and believe that both will be very successful at the Division I level," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said.

Minton joins a UCSB squad that will not have an established goalkeeper in 2007 for the first time during Vom Steeg's eight seasons as head coach. He will compete with redshirt freshmen Bryant Rueckner and Jason Badger for the starting job between the pipes after the departure of 2006 All-College Cup selection and Big West Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Kyle Reynish. A former teammate of current Gauchos David Walker and Jordan Kaplan with the Strikers, Minton led the nationally ranked club of the Coast Soccer Premiere League to a pair of tournament wins at the prestigious Nomads Tournament and a victory at the Pateadores Cup. He was four-year varsity letterwinner at El Toro High School, where he led the Chargers to victories at the Hoover High School Tournament and was named Tournament MVP after guiding the squad to two South Torrance tourney titles. Minton earned All-South Coast League, All-Orange County, and All-CIF distinction as a junior last season and has allowed just one goal as a senior this season.

"Minton was one of the top goalkeepers in Southern California in high school," Vom Steeg said. "He will help to give us one of the best young trio of goalkeepers in the country and the team will benefit from the competitive environment at that position."

Joining former ODP Region IV teammate Bongomin Otii in 2007 will be Eubanks, member of the squad from 2004-06. A standout forward with the team, Eubanks was named the Region IV Offensive MVP after a qualifying trip to Leipzig, Germany in 2005 and guided the squad to back-to-back InterRegionals appearances the last two years. A four-year ODP State Team performer and 2006 team captain, he is also an All-State First Team selection at Mullen High School. Eubanks, a three-year letterwinner, led the Mustangs to the 2005 High School Soccer quarterfinals and to consecutive Colorado State finals appearances as a freshman and sophomore.

"Eubanks is a player with speed, size, and is extremely versatile," Vom Steeg said. "He is a natural leader and he has competed at very high levels. A player with his versatility and experience will help us win games in the future."

In other team/roster moves sophomore transfer Chad Williams (Kingston, Jamaica/Hiram College), a Jamaican National Team standout, has been training with the team after getting admitted for the 2007 winter quarter. Williams, who sat out the fall quarter, will bolster the left side after competing as a member of Jamaica's national team in 2004 and 2005. He transferred to Santa Barbara after an impressive season at Hiram College, where was ranked in the top five on his team in nearly every statistical category. Williams earned All-NCAC honorable mention honors after recording four goals and one assist in nine starts for the Terriers two years ago.

O'Brien, Minton, Eubanks, and Williams join a Gaucho team that returns all but five players from last year's national championship team and expects to sign two or three more players before the start of the season. With All-Americans in defender Andy Iro and midfielder Eric Avila returning, as well as five other players that started in the national final against UCLA in December, Santa Barbara will have the pieces in place to make another postseason run in 2007.

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