SANTA MARIA, Calif. — For over a decade, Rene Pacheco and Christian Jimenez have taken home titles, awards and accolades on the soccer pitch.
The two teammates first met as 6-year-old teammates on a Santa Maria youth soccer pitch.
“I would consider Christian one of my brothers after playing with him for so many years,” Pacheco said.
Their journey as friends and teammates over the next decade-plus saw them dominate at Dunn School and land the Santa Barbara Soccer Club on the precipice of a national championship — all before heading out to become college soccer rivals in the Big West Conference this fall.
“The chemistry that we’ve formed on the field, I don’t think it can be matched,” Jimenez said. “Every game we just look for each other, we know what our movements are.”
The dynamic duo helped bring a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 championship to Dunn in 2020, with Pacheco scoring a pair of goals for the Earwigs in the 4-1 victory over Pomona Ganesha in the title match. That year, Pacheco earned All-CIF honors.
“Winning the CIF Championship during our junior year was just an unreal experience,” Pacheco said.
“The fact that we went undefeated 20-0, not a lot of teams can say they went undefeated and won the whole thing,” Jimenez said.
This past season, Dunn’s playoff run ended in the section semifinals with both Pacheco and Jimenez earning All Tri-Valley League honors and Jimenez as the TVL defensive player of the year.
For many years, the two friends also teamed up on the Santa Barbara Soccer Club.
This summer, their club team made it all the way to the Boys Under 18 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Bradenton, Fla.
Santa Barbara’s run for a national crown was eventually derailed in the semifinals, during a 2-1 defeat to the Las Vegas Sports Academy.
“At the end of the day, we’re proud that we were able to make it that far,” Jimenez said. “It’s the biggest competition for club, that a club can be in.”
This fall, Jimenez will be walking on at UC Riverside, while Pacheco fulfills his childhood dream on scholarship for UC Santa Barbara.
“I actually grew up going to the games, so it was a dream of mine to go to the school and get to represent UCSB myself,” Pacheco said.
During the dog days of summer, they’re enjoying a final opportunity to train together before possibly finding themselves on opposite sides of the pitch.
“It would be really exciting to have the feeling that we both made it to the next level,” Jimenez said. “At the same time, if we were playing on the field, I know that we would not be friends against each other.”
“There’s no friends out on the field,” Pacheco concluded. “So while we’re very good friends, I’m sure he wouldn’t be afraid to go out and tackle me as hard as he can.”
At the end of the day, this friendship runs deep — both on and off the field — as both soccer stars have elevated each other to the next level.