UCSB’s 2008 women’s soccer recruiting class, which included 12 incoming freshmen and a transfer, has been rated as the 38th best recruiting class in the nation by Soccer Buzz Magazine.

Soccer Buzz, an online publication, is considered the best source for women’s collegiate soccer information.

UCSB was ranked 38th out of 320 NCAA Division I schools that compete in women’s soccer. The program ranked 11th in the West Region, and first in the Big West Conference. Previously, the highest ranking for a Gaucho recruiting class was 45th in 2006.

“The ranking speaks to the legitimacy of the players, and it is fitting recognition for what they have already achieved,” head coach Paul Stumpf said. “Also, it is an honor to have the hard work of our coaching staff recognized in such a positive way.”

The 2008 freshmen recruiting class includes defender-forward Jillian Armstrong of Danville (San Ramon Valley High School); defender Alyssa Benjamin of Petaluma (Casa Grande High); forward Laura Caparilli of Manhattan Beach (Mira Costa High); goalkeeper Laura DiBiase of Redondo Beach (Palos Verdes High); defender Danika Johnson of San Diego (Cathedral Catholic High); forward Lindsey Loftus of Rancho Santa Margarita (Santa Margarita Catholic High); midfielder Emily Ohlhaver of Costa Mesa (Newport Harbor High); defender Alyssa Oldham of Yorba Linda (Mater Dei); midfielder Katherine Roby of Poway (Poway High); forward Alissa Sanchez of San Diego (Cathedral Catholic High); defender-midfielder Alexa Stringer of Danville (Monte Vista High); and midfielder Cory Yoshida of Irvine (Northwood High).  In addition, Natalie Weeks of San Ramon (California High), who played her freshman season at the University of Colorado, has transferred to UCSB and will be eligible immediately.

“This class of recruits may be the best that I have ever had here at UCSB,” Stumpf said. “It is a class with a handful of special players, but it is the depth that makes it unique. I can see four of them immediately competing for starting roles, and consistently playing for their entire careers. It is the fact that everyone in the class brings something special to the table, whether it be goal scoring ability, defensive/ball winning mentality, their love of the game, or their overall versatility. Those are the reasons that the staff is so excited about this group.”

The Gauchos will open the 2008 regular season Aug. 22 when they travel to the University of Nevada.

Bill Mahoney is UCSB‘s assistant athletics director.