San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University men's soccer program has signed six athletes to National Letters of Intent to compete for the Spartans beginning in the Fall 2012. Head Coach Gary St. Clair made the announcement.
The six student-athletes include four high school seniors, and a two transfer students. Two are international students and the other four are from California. The Californians are Kyler McLaughlin, Eric Mendez, Enrique Montano and Dylan West. Jasper Pipe is from Australia and Thomas Barnes is from Great Britain.
"I feel great about this recruiting class," men's soccer head coach Gary St. Clair said. "As I look back over the last 10 years, I don't think we have seen a class this deep or rich. We had good classes in 2001 and 1998, but this class is potentially our best in the last 10 years.
"This is a big class for us. We lost a lot of talent after last season and needed a big class to begin to reload. Each one of these players will have a chance to start and play immediately. We had holes to fill and went after players who can fill those holes right now. We needed a left back and got one. We lost an awful lot of strikers and have brought in several to replace them. So, we have recruited specific positions, but also with an eye on the future, because after next year we will lose another big class of kids. The size of this group allows us to prepare for immediate needs as well as our future needs."
A 6-2 center back, Dylan West attended Davis (Calif.) Senior High School and earned varsity letters (Coach Ashley Yudin) as a sophomore and junior. In two years he scored 26 golas and played as the only sophomore on the varsity team. Davis Senior was a Division 1 Section Finalists in 2010 and a semifinalists in 2009. West chose not to play varsity soccer last year to focus on U18 Academy Soccer and his studies.
He was the leading goal scorer for the Davis Legacy 94 U17 (Coach Paul O'Brien), with 23 goals, 12 assists including the single winning goal forthe Nor Cal Spring Showcase Championship. West played above his age level with the San Juan Lightning U18, 2009.
"Dylan was our first signee and I am particularly excited about him," St. Clair said. "He is a big, strong central defender who was converted from a midfielder, but there is no question in my mind that his best position is as a central defender. He gives us real strength and power back there. He is relatively new to the position, but both myself and his other coaches are astonished how quickly he has picked up one of the most difficult positions on the field. He does a wonderful job of reading the game and is good with the ball on his feet."
Enrique Montano, a 6-1 midfielder and native of Salinas, Calif., was a four-time varsity letter winner at Alisal High School (Coach Mark Cisneros) in Salinas. He was a member of three Tri-County League championship sides (2007-09) as well as the 2010 Central Coast Conference Champs. Montano earned second-team All Tri-County honors in 2008 and was the team's MVP in 2009, when he scored eight goals and assisted on five others. In his four years at Alisal, his teams were a combined 57-16-16 overall and 39-3-5 in league play.
Montano spent last year at Hartnell College (Coach Daniel Ortega) in Salinas. He had two goals and nine assists for a team that went 16-2-3 overall and won the Coast Conference Championship. They reached the state final and ended the year the No. 3 ranked team in the nation. They were the top ranked side in Northern California and No. 2 in the state.
He played his club ball for the US Soccer Development Academy's Santa Cruz Breakers for U-15/16 coach Efrain Burgos and U-17/18 coach Mike Runeare.
"We looked at Enrique in high school," St. Clair said. "He went to Hartnell and played for one of my former players, Danny Ortega. I think what impressed us was how much he had improved. He understands what his role is as a holding mid. He is truly a box-to-box midfielder. He reads the game well and disrupts what the other team does. He is left sided and excels in service on set pieces. The job he takes on is such an important role, but doesn't get a lot of recognition. If you are going to be successful you need a smart player like him."
Jasper Pipe, a 6-2 striker from Sydney, Australia is a transfer student from the University of Western Sydney and played club soccer with the Northern Tigers FC in Syndey.
"Jasper played at a high youth level," St. Clair said. "He was on the Nike Select Team which represented Australia and toured England and throughout Europe. He is a big, strong central striker. He can play up or as a center striker. He has good size, pace, instincts. He is good in the air and has played as a central defender in the past. He gives us athleticism and size and the one thing that we are looking for him to do is score goals."
Tom Barnes, a 6-0 center forward, from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England. He has scored 14 goals this season for Kings Lynn Town FC including 10 goals in 10 league matches. The side has a 22-1-1 overall record and are undefeated in league competition. Last year Kings Lynn won the Ridgeons Reserve Division 2 title and he was named his team's Player of the Year.
Barnes attends King Edward VII School in Kings Lynn. That team reached the final 16 in the English Schools National Championship in the 2009-2010 season, and didn't lose a single league match for two years. He also represented Norfolk U18's last season and won the FA County Youth Cup for the first time in the team's history. The final was played at a Premier League venue.
"Tom is a very strong player who is good with both feet and good in front of the goal," St. Clair said. "He is a bit of a sniper. He is always looking to take a shot and usually gets something off, with either foot. He has good size and in the time I have been recruiting him, I have seen him and talked to others who feel he is a real goal scorer. Both Tom and Jasper will have to work on their fitness to bring it up to a Division I level."
Eric Mendez, a 6-1 striker out of Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, Calif., is the No. 17 ranked player in Northern California. He has played three years of varsity soccer (Coach Devon Tomson) and was named the team's MVP in 2010 and 2011, years in which he led the team in scoring. Mendez was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League (SCCAL) co-forward in 2010 and a first-team All-SCCAL honoree in 2011.
He plays club soccer for the Santa Cruz Breakers (Coach Efrain Burgos). In 2010 he appeared in both the Arizona and Florida Showcases. In 2005-06 the team achieved a Got Soccer Tournament Ranking of No. 2 in Northern California and No. 26 nationally. In 2006 they were the Super-Y League Regional Champions. In 2007 they participated in the Surf Cup, were the Sporting Cup Champs and the CYSA-N State Cup Quarter-Finalists. They repeated as CYSA-N State Cup Quarter-Finalists in 2009.
"Eric is another striker," St. Clair said. "He's a big kid and very impressive on the field. He has really good instinct and can play a lot of different games...with his back to the goal, in short diagonal runs to the top of the box. He reads the game really well, puts himself in scoring positions really well. For a big man, he is quite savvy. This mix of strikers has a focus not only on 2012, but beyond."
Kyler McLaughlin is a 6-1 defender out of San Diego, Calif.'s Serra High School (Coach Jamaal Saunders). He plays club soccer for the Notts Forest FC U18.
"Kyler is unique in that he is a left defender," St. Clair said. "He will have an opportunity to come in and be our left back from day one. He is a good size kid. He takes care of business defensively and loves to come forward in the attack. This is a goal scoring left back and hopefully he can continue to be one at this level. This is a young man who could be very good for us in the near future."