Feb. 2, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - The UC Davis men's soccer team and head coach Dwayne Shaffer announced on Wednesday that Eric Budniewski from Poway High School in Poway, Calif., Ryan Gross from Davis High School in Davis, and Spencer Williams from University City High School in San Diego, Calif. have each signed National Letters of Intent and will join the Aggies in the fall.
"Our program is back to the high level of soccer we reached a few years ago when we advanced to the NCAA Tournament and were ranked nationally, and these three signees are going to add even more quality and depth," said Shaffer. "We've recruited the right players and the right type of people to fit our program and Eric, Ryan and Spencer will help make our depth and experience that much greater next season."
Budniewski has led Poway High School to back-to-back CIF-San Diego Section semifinal appearances, with a combined 27 goals and 27 assists in his sophomore and junior seasons. With 22 assists as a junior, Budniewski ranked among the national high school leaders in assists and earned ESPNHS Player of the Week honors in January 2011. He received All-CIF-San Diego Section first team accolades as well as selection to the All-Palomar League and All-North County first teams.
This year, Budniewski has scored eight goals and recorded seven assists for his team, which is currently first place in the Palomar League.
"Every time I've watched Eric play, he's made an impact offensively in every game either by scoring goals or providing an assist," said Shaffer. "He possesses great technical ability, a great soccer brain, and he's quick with and without the ball. I can see him battling for a starting position right away."
Local product Gross most recently led the Blue Devils to the their first CIF-Sac-Joaquin section championship since 2007 and was named Sac-Joaquin Offensive Player of the Year. Additionally, he earned Delta Valley Conference's Most Valuable Player honor after leading Davis High School to a 9-1 league record and a No. 24 national ranking from ESPN Rise. Gross was one of just 37 players selected to participate in the first-ever High School All-American Soccer Game in Birmingham, Ala. during the weekend of the men's NCAA DIv. I College Cup.
"I like the fact that Ryan is a local player because he's followed our program and has grown up to be an Aggie," said Shaffer. "I'm excited to have Ryan become a member of our team. He's a great player and a great leader and he'll help us add depth as an incoming freshman in our midfield and possibly our defense."
Williams, a 2012 team captain for University City High School, has led his team to a No. 41 national ranking as well as a No. 19 state ranking. Last year, the Centurions won the CIF-San Diego Section championship with Williams contributing 14 goals and six assists. For his efforts, he earned a spot on the All-Western League first team and was voted his team's Offensive Player of the Year. Additionally, Williams competed for the Notts Forest Football Club and was teammates with Budniewski for a few years.
"The main quality I saw in Spencer, and the main reason I want him as a member of our program, is that he fits the exact type of student-athlete I love having in our program," said Shaffer. "He is an excellent student, he has excellent soccer ability and he is very quick, very technical and very versatile. He's played central defender, midfielder and striker and he's done very well at all three positions. I see him playing as an outside back or winger for our program."
UC Davis advanced to the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament, finishing third overall. Matt Wiesenfarth was named the league's Freshman of the Year while Lance Patterson earned first team honors. Kevin Schulte and Wiesenfarth were each named to the second team.