UC Irvine Men's Soccer Announces Signing Class

The Anteaters look to bolster their Big West Championship squad.
The Anteaters look to bolster their Big West Championship squad.

IRVINE, Calif. --- The Anteaters boast 12 recruits to join the squad in 2012.

When asked about the incoming players, Head Coach George Kuntz stated, "We are prepared to continue the tradition of excellence with the men's soccer program at UC Irvine. This class is one of the best recruiting classes in the nation this year and one of the best we have had during my seventeen years here at the University of California, Irvine.

We are very excited about our returning and recruited athletes in 2012.  We have bolstered our program with players that are Academy standouts, Club soccer National Champions, National Team Players, Club Soccer USYSA State Champions, Olympic Development National Champions, and High School First team All-State Players. There are additional incoming student athletes that will be mentioned as the season starts."

Here is a list of the recruits:

Player                        Pos.     Hometown                             Last school

Pavle Atanackovic      F        Montrose                    Crescenta Valley HS

Jack Birkenbeuel      M/D     Pasadena                                       Poly HS

Mats Bjurman            M/D     Irvine                                          Irvine HS

Austin Burke              F/M      Westminster                           Cypress HS

Omar Dweik                M       Amman, Jordan Amman Baccalaureate School

Noah Gaines             M/D     Cupertino                         Oakland Tech HS

Thomas Janjigian       D        Pleasanton                      Amador Valley HS

George Mansour       F/M      Poway                       Cathedral Catholic HS

Thom Moreira              F        Rio de Janeiro, Brazil         Colegio Recanto

Michael Sperber       M/D     Palm Desert                           Xavier Prep HS

Matthew Tilley             D        Irvine                                           Irvine HS

Renato Torquato       F/M      Ewa Beach, HI                             Mililani HS

Head Coach George Kuntz added the following: "Our program is proud of years of unparalleled success. We graduated a very special group of seniors from a team that broke all UC Irvine records over the last four seasons earning three NCAA tournament appearances, three Big West Tournament Championships, three Big West Championships, four Big West Tournament appearances, and had two NCAA Tournament Seeds with a 60W-18L-10T record. Last year marked the sixth consecutive season in which our team was ranked in the Top 20 nationally in one or more of the soccer polls during the regular season. Since 2006, we have had twelve players drafted by Major League Soccer (thirteen overall), two players on the US Under-20 National Team, and one player on the full US National Team.

Our team returns nine players who started games for us last season. We feel we have filled voids for graduating seniors nicely with new recruits and players on our squad who have experience. Many players from last year's Big West Champion squad also return. We return three 2011 all conference players from last year's squad, Big West First Team defender Everett Pitts, Big West Second Team Defender Marco Franco, and freshman Honorable Mention Forward (Lester) Tre Hayes.

There is great potential in our recruiting class this year. The players we have recruited fit well within our exciting, attacking-style system of play which was in top 10 in the nation for goals scored, shots, and corner kicks, and complimented our team in many tangible and intangible ways. At the same time, we have added strength to a back line that returns some great players that gave up fewest goals in the Big West Conference and one of the fewest goals against in the USA.

We have added some strong attacking players by recruiting forwards and midfielders, and filled voids left to graduation in defensive positions. This recruiting class adds size, speed, and skill to an already talented group returning next year.  These student athletes will represent themselves and the university well. The 2012 season is an opportunity for us to prove we are one of the most elite teams in the nation." 

These players will join an Anteater squad coming off its third NCAA tournament appearance as a National Seed stemming from a Big West regular season title, and its third Big West tournament championship in the last four years.


Stay tuned in the coming weeks for in-depth looks at each player.

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