Ibarra playing for Taft College
By Michael Clites
Imagine being one of the most versatile athletes with the best athletic abilities. Imagine having talents so good that any college would kill to have you a part of their athletic team. Now imagine having these athletic talents and going so under the radar, that no college recruiting scout even offers you anything to be a part of their squad. These scenarios are all to real for former Taft College Men’s Soccer star, Miguel Ibarra.
Ibarra is a California native born in Lancaster. He had played soccer his whole life but was never a part of a major or notable soccer program which made it difficult for college scouts to notice this secret talent. But there was one coach who noticed his athletic abilities and was extremely eager to bring this him to his program. This coach being none other than Angelo Cutrona, Taft College’s men’s soccer coach.
Coach Cutrona was first exposed to Ibarra’s talents while attending one of his PDL club soccer games against Cal State Fullerton. “Miguel, he was dominant in that game. He was blowing past players and hit a couple of absolute 20-25 yard bombs, upper 90. After that game, I figured there’s no way I had a chance to get him because surely this kid must have Division I offers. And if he doesn’t then Fullerton is going to be all over him” says Coach Cutrona.
“But they never approached him,” Cutrona said. “They just missed him. Not just Fullerton, I don‘t want to single those coaches out. He probably would have gotten seen more if he lived some place more populated or played on a bigger club. But it’s not like coaches didn’t see him. They saw him and they missed him.” This being the case, Cutrona got the steal of all steals which resulted in Ibarra joining the Taft College soccer program.
Cutrona’s recruit did not disappoint as he exceeded expectations and helped Taft to a state championship in 2008. After his years at Taft, Ibarra was picked up by UC Irvine. At Irvine, Ibarra instantly flashed his play making ability, scoring a goal with 10 assists as a junior. As a senior, in 2011, Ibarra added goal-scoring to his attributes, finishing with nine goals and eight assists and being named the Big West Conference offensive player of the year.
It was accomplishments like this that helped Ibarra take his talents to the next level, professional soccer. After college, Ibarra was drafted by the Minnesota Timbers soccer team where he played mid attacker. His speed, agility, and drive is what made him stand out more than others.
In September 2014, Ibarra received a call from the U.S National team saying they want him to be a part of their squad this fall. Ibarra will be a part of the team in the U.S friendly match-ups against Honduras and Ecuador. Now there is no say whether Ibarra will get the start, but one thing is for certain and that’s that he is making his former college of Taft proud. The buzz about Ibarra is intriguing to students and faculty because he is representing his alma mater. Taft doesn’t get much recognition and the fact that one of their former student athletes is a part of the United States soccer team is pretty uplifting. No matter what happens, the former Taft College alumni has brought inspiration and smiles to the students, teachers, and athletes across the campus.
Ibarra recently playing in the pros.