Los Angeles, Calif. - Ismael Ibarra, a senior forward on the San Jose State University men’s soccer team, has been named to the 2007 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) NCAA Division I All-Far West Region First Team.
Ibarra is the only player from the six-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which also boasts 2005 national runner-up New Mexico, selected to the first team. Ibarra becomes the first Spartan in recent memory to earn first-team all-region recognition. Frank Sanfilippo and former teammate Nelson Diaz garnered second-team distinction in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
The native of Salinas, Calif., appeared in all 19 games in 2007, starting 17, as San Jose State went 10-9 overall and 5-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation while finishing third in the league standings. The graduate of Everett Alvarez High School who starred at Hartnell College for two years before spending the last three at San Jose State, led the team with nine goals scored, including the game-winner during a 3-0 home win over UNLV on October 14. He added three assists for a team-best 21 total points. Out of 59 total shots, a team-best 26 were on goal.
Ibarra tallied a single-game season-high four total points in a 4-0 home defeat of College of Charleston on September 30, assisting on the game-winning opener in just the fifth minute, as well as the third Spartan goal, while scoring the second goal himself. His first goal of the season will not soon be forgotten by those that were fortunate enough to see it, an absolute blast from around the midfield line to give his side a 2-0 lead over host Davidson during what turned out to be a 3-2 Spartan victory at the season-opening Davidson adidas Classic on September 2.
For his efforts all year, Ibarra earned first-team All-MPSF selection. He had previously picked up second-team All-MPSF and MPSF Co-Newcomer of the Year honors following his first season at San Jose State in 2005. He shared 2007 team MVP honors with junior co-captain Ed Brand, as voted on to a virtual tie by their teammates.
“There was a consensus with Ish within the conference, that he was probably the single most dangerous player in the league,” remarked San Jose State head coach Gary St. Clair, who just concluded his 18th season in charge at his alma mater. “He was up for the MVP award (in the conference), and made first-team all-conference. He was a threat any time he got the ball, to beat people and score. He is a very dangerous one-on-one player with the ball at his feet, facing the goal. He scored some spectacular goals for us throughout the conference season and throughout the season in general. This is certainly a well-deserved honor for him.”
Ibarra took part in a two-day tryout for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer this past weekend, and will also take part in an upcoming invitation-only tryout for the San Jose Earthquakes, the two-time MLS champions who will be making a return to the league as an expansion franchise for the new season in April of 2008 after a two-year absence. Ibarra’s teammate and striking partner, Julio Gonzalez, a fellow Salinas product and senior this past season, will participate in a separate invitation-only tryout for the Earthquakes. Both players also will have opportunities to continue their playing careers professionally in Mexico.