Like a lot of youth players in the Santa Barbara community, Caden and Jared Vom Steeg enrolled in Santa Barbara Soccer Club as soon as they were old enough.
As the twin sons of UCSB men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg, their development as players was closely monitored and well planned. For their junior year of high school, they joined the Real So Cal Soccer Club, as part of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy league, which includes a full 10-month calendar.
“After their sophomore years, they progressed to the level where I thought they needed to be exposed to the best players in the country,” Tim Vom Steeg said. “We had conversations about what was going to happen for their senior year. We were always trying to find the situation where they were going to continue to develop as players, and we felt like they were going to continue to develop in town.”
Much like former Santa Barbara High and UCSB star goalkeeper Ben Roach, who spent a couple of years at the Academy before returning to Santa Barbara High for his senior season to lead the Dons to the CIF title, the Vom Steeg twins put together special senior seasons at San Marcos High.
The Royals were unbeaten in the regular season with a 12-0-1 record and claimed their first outright Channel League title since 2002, by virtue of a 2-1 victory over rival Santa Barbara on April 29.
“This team is incredible. The most passion I’ve ever played with on a team, the most fight and the most energy,” Jared Vom Steeg said. “It’s an honor to play with them; they put everything on the field. Guys like A.J. Ranii — their hearts are in it every single game.”
The road to a CIF championship began with 3-0 first-round victory over Oxnard, but in the second round at Norwalk, the Royals found themselves in a dogfight after surrendering an early goal.
With time running out and chance after chance coming up empty, Caden Vom Steeg finally found an equalizer in stoppage time, sending the match into overtime. Miguel Mondragon sent in a cross to the back post that found the head of Jared Vom Steeg, who put it across the box to his brother for the goal.
“Going into the season, I knew I had to put some good performances together to help our team get some victories, so being able to carry that out and score some important goals was really satisfying,” Caden Vom Steeg said. “I’m glad that I could help the team in that way.”
After two overtime periods, the teams were still deadlocked at 1-1, and Norwalk advanced after penalty kicks (5-4). It was an extremely physical match on a very narrow field, and the upset loss was especially tough to swallow, considering the way San Marcos controlled possession and created far more scoring chances than Norwalk.
“It’s tough. It’s really brutal. We were in front of the net like five to six times, so many times that we could have just put the game away,” Jared Vom Steeg said. “But that’s soccer. Sometimes it doesn’t go our way. It’s tough for the seniors because it’s our last game.”
The twins will continue their development under their father’s tutelage, as they have signed National Letters of Intent to play at UCSB as a part of an eight-player recruiting class. According to their father, they both have very high ceilings as players.
“My older two boys physically developed really early. They were able to use the physical side of the game and just be ahead of everybody,” Tim Vom Steeg said. “Jared and Caden have physically developed later, which is honestly most of the cases with twins. I think about a year and half ago is when they really started to grow and then they got quicker and faster, which completely changed their games.”
The prospect of the Vom Steeg twins being “late bloomers” could really serve them well as they advance in their soccer careers at UCSB. Their understanding of the game has always been advanced for their age, and the ability to see the game and physically make plays is a formidable combination.
After years of watching matches from the stands, the Vom Steeg twins will make the Harder stadium turf their own this fall. Gaucho soccer looks to return to normalcy after the fall 2020 season was canceled in favor of a shortened spring exhibition season due to COVID-19.