Acoff brings speed, experience to UCSB soccer team

The Harder Stadium groundskeepers better be prepared to repair the grass after Dion Acoff plays on it with the UCSB men’s soccer team this season.

Acoff is a speed burner and he’ll be scorching the turf on his runs to goal for the Gauchos.

A transfer from Creighton, where last year he started on the team that beat UCSB in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb., and reached the College Cup, Acoff is blessed with great speed — he ran the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds when he attended Damien High in LaVerne.

He had the reins pulled on him a bit last season at Creighton under first-year coach Elmar Bolowich.

“With Creighton, I was more of a staying-out-wide-getting-back-on-defense player because we were a really big defensive team; we allowed 2 or 3 goals in 21 games.,” Acoff said after the Gauchos’ first practice. “With UCSB, (coach Tim Vom Steeg) wants me to play more of a Sam Garza role: coming back, getting the ball in the midfield, taking defenders on, going more in the middle, playing with the top man and center-mids; giving me more room to do what I want to do.”

The Gauchos are getting an accomplished player.

Acoff was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree at Creighton and was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2009. The Upland, Calif. native has played in 58 Division I contests and has posted 16 assists, five goals and 26 total points during his three seasons at Creighton.

Vom Steeg said Acoff’s style of play is similar to that of former Gaucho standout Chris Pontius, a member of the 2006 National Championship team who’s now a star for D.C. United in Major League Soccer.

“A player like Dion, as we’ve learned from Chris Pontius, you can make a living being a right-footed player on the opposite side because you have to respect his right, because he’s going to score on it,” Vom Steeg said. “But you give him the left and Chris will keep running and he’s in your box. Dion has the same ability, where he’s so fast. If you literally try to play his right foot, he’s gone and he’s in your box and now he’s going to goal.”

After Dion announced his decision to transfer to UCSB, Creighton’s Bolowich told the Omaha World Herald it was a good move for the player.

“I think Dion has a chance to have a good experience there,” the coach said.

Acoff adds to the boatload experience on this year’s Gaucho squad.

“We have more seniors and juniors, but I feel like in my four years, it’s one of those most talented teams that I’ve been a part of,” he said.

Watch the video of Dion Acoff’s interview.