Rebels Sign 11 For 2009
March 17, 2009
LAS VEGAS - Eleven players have signed national letters of intent to play men's soccer for UNLV starting in the fall of 2009, head coach Mario Sanchez announced. UNLV's class comes from all over the country, as it includes players from California (three), New York (two), Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Iowa.
First is Jonny Espinoza, native of Carlsbad, Calif., and a 6-1 midfielder for La Costa Canyon High. A four-year starter, Espinoza is a two-time first-team all-league selection who has helped the Mavericks to one CIF championship, while the team is currently 14-0-2 and ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN. Ranked as the 44th top youth player in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer, Espinoza has been a five-year captain of his San Diego Surf U.S. Soccer Academy club team, and helped them to the Region IV National Cup quarterfinals in 2007 and 2008. "Jonny is a very technical player who has developed his play with one of the best clubs in the country. His ability on the ball will make us a dangerous team in the attack" said Sanchez.
Also from California is Robert Garcia, a native of Fresno. A four-year starter for Hoover High, he earned first team all-league honors his freshman year, and also ran one season of track. Garcia has played both defender and forward for several club teams, including the Revolution, CUSA, and Bullard teams in Fresno, while he currently plays for the Cal Odyssey U.S. Soccer Academy club team in Clovis, Calif. "Robert will add speed and quickness to our front line. He will give us the ability to get behind other teams in the attack," said Sanchez.
Trey Jasenski is the first of two players from New York. From Schenectady, the 5-10 defender helped Mohonasen High to a sectional championship and a fourth-place finish in the state his senior year. He was named Class AA Player of the Year while also earning first team Suburban Council All-Star, Class A All-star, all-state and all-region honors his final season as well. Jasenski has been a member of the Blackwatch Premier club team out of Albany, N.Y. since 2002, and the team has been both a finalist at the Surf Cup while also winning the ODP Super Y National Championship four times. "Trey is a hard working, no nonsense defender. Trey will add speed and tenacity to our backline," says coach Sanchez.
Next is Zach Kupher from Bellmore, N.Y.. A 5-10 midfielder, he started four years at W.C. Mepham High and helped them to three top-three finishes in the state tournament. He finished his high school career with 50 goals and 25 assists, and was a three-time all-county honoree. Kupher is a member of the U-18 National Pool, and plays for the USSF U-16 Albertson Academy club team that won the Northeast Region and placed seventh at the Nationals. "Zach has the ability to change games," Sanchez noted. "He always wants the ball and he is not afraid to take over a game."
From Arizona comes Nick Marshall, a native of Tucson. A 5-8 forward, Marshall was a two-sport star at Canyon Del Oro High, He was named first team all-region three times, and was also named first team all-city and all-state his junior season, in which he set the school record for goals in a season with 23. Marshall helped the Dorados to the state semifinals twice, including a runner-up finish in 2007 and this year they won a State Championship. As a kicker on the football team the past two years, he set school records for most field goals in a game (three), most career field goals (11), and most consecutive made field goals (five), and was named second team all-state in 2007. Nick plays for the highly respected Tucson Soccer Academy. "Nick is one of the top players out of Arizona," said Sanchez. "He is one of the quickest players that we have ever had at UNLV. He is a tireless worker who can play up-front or wide."
The sixth recruit of the class is Castle Rock, Colo. native Scott Branson. A 5-10 defender, the two-time all-state and all-conference defender led Rock Canyon High to a 17-0-3 record and the state championship in 2008 while helping the team earn a final national ranking of No. 13 by ESPN. During his time with the team, the Jaguars won three conference championships and two regional championships, and he was named team defensive player of the year three times. Branson also played one year of football as a kicker and wide receiver, and ran track his sophomore season as well. The past four years he has been a member of the U.S. Soccer Academy Real Colorado club team, and helped the team to a fourth place finish at nationals in 2008. "Scott has a great left-foot and is a very steady defender," said Sanchez. "His experience from having played with one of the top Academy Clubs in the country will serve UNLV well."
Hailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, is Brock Granger. A 5-9 midfielder/defender, he was a first team all-state selection as a junior while leading the Iolani School to a state championship runner-up finish, and helped the team to the state championship in his senior season. A member of the ODP Region IV team in 2007-09, Granger has played for the Honolulu Bulls club team since 1999, and helped his squad to seven state championships during that stretch."I had the privilege of coaching Brock with the regional team, and he is one of the most athletic players I have worked with and one of the most consistent as well," said Sanchez.
Brandon Dimbi, native of Nampa, Idaho, is a 5-10 forward who earned Player of the Year honors while leading Nampa Senior High to an 18-0 record and a fourth-place finish in the state tournament his senior year. Dimbi has been a member of the ODP Region IV Pool, and plays for the Capitals club team in Boise, who won the state title in 2008. "Brandon has the ability to go 1v1 and change a game. His technically ability in tight spaces allows him to do the unexpected in the attack." said Sanchez.
From Greshman, Ore., is Roberto Farfan, a 5'10 midfielder. Playing for two different schools (2005 at Reyndd High in Troutclale, 2006 and 2008 at Centennial High in Greshman), Farfan has earned first team all-conference honors three times, and was named second team all-state in 2008 while helping the Centennial Eagles to a 7-4-1 record. He also earned all-state honorable mention as a freshman, and has been team MVP twice. Playing for the ESU Eagles club team, Farfan helped them to three top-two state finishes, including the state championship in 2007, and have also been a member of the Oregon and Region IV ODP team since 2005. "Roberto played with current Rebel Nick Deleon and former Rebel (now in the MLS) Danny Cruz on the regional team," said Sanchez. "He is a very good midfield player who reads the game very well and he is comfortable on the ball under pressure."
Simon Cook is a 6-1 goalkeeper from Northern Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). Cook came to NICC from Alton, England. He has been the starting goalkeeper for the past two years and earned All-Region honors this past year. "Simon comes in with a lot of experience," said Sanchez. "He is a very vocal goalkeeper with a good presence in goal."
The last signee for the 2009 class is 6-1 forward, Ben Milam. A native of Fresno, Calif., he was a four-year letterwinner for Clovis West High, and is also a member of the Region IV Olympic Development Regional Team. "We are looking forward to Ben joining our program," said Sanchez. "He is a very strong and skillful forward. Ben possesses the ability to hold the ball and combine with others in the attack. He has a great shot and is a tireless worker."
"We feel that this is one of the best recruiting classes on the west coast," commented Sanchez on the 2009 recruiting class, "We have added players who can help us in all areas of the field. We feel that we are going to have a very competitive group who will be able to step in and help us challenge for a NCAA Tournament Bid. As we continue to move the program forward, I feel that this group of players will join our current group of Rebel players to help us have a major impact on our future success."