Before the 2006 season, UCLA's incoming class was ranked as the nation's best, but it wasn't because of Soccer America Men's Freshman of the Year David Estrada
In an incoming class that featured three U.S. U-17 residency standouts -- Kyle Nakazawa
, Michael Stephens
and Bryan Perk
-- Estrada was an afterthought.
He was a
walk-on from a small high school in Salinas, Calif., located in the agricultural heartland of Northern California. He scored 66 goals in his senior season -- most in the country -- at Alisal High
School -- including 11 in one game, the second-most in state history -- but attracted scholarship offers from only two Division I schools. After a cousin contacted the UCLA staff, Estrada was signed
as a walk-on, but he quickly became in integral part of the Bruin attack. First, star Kamani Hill
didn't return to school for his junior year -- he eventually signed a contract with
German club Wolfsburg -- then leading scorer Maxwell Griffin
was lost for the season with a knee injury.
With Nakazawa at his side, the Mexican-born Estrada was sensational in the
NCAA Tournament. He scored two goals to lead the Bruins past Clemson, 3-0, in the third round, and he scored the first two goals -- the first on a one-two with Nakazawa and a fancy dance through the
Virginia defense -- in UCLA's 4-0 demolition of Virginia in the semifinals.
Estrada finished with 12 goals -- 11 after becoming a starter in early October -- and 28 points -- the most
by a UCLA freshman since Joe-Max Moore in 1990.