By JD Scroggin, for Dunn School
Christian Jimenez and Rene Pacheco first met as 6-year-old teammates on a Santa Maria youth soccer pitch.
Their journey as friends and teammates over the next decade-plus saw them bring titles and awards to Dunn School and land Santa Barbara Soccer Club on the precipice of a national championship — all before they ship out to become college soccer rivals in the Big West Conference this fall.
On July 20, Jimenez and Pacheco will help lead Santa Barbara SC against Baltimore (Md.) Celtic Soccer in the opening match of the 2021 USYS Boys 18 Under National Championships in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Eight teams, regional champions from all over the United States, are competing for the national crown.
“A national championship for the club would be really important,” Jimenez said. “There’s only so many years you’ll see a group like ours come into the club and make a run for a title. So we’re hoping to be one of those groups.”
The 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.
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.
This fall, Jimenez will be walking on at UC Riverside, while Pacheco fulfills his childhood dream on scholarship for UC Santa Barbara. A Santa Barbara native, Pacheco has fond memories as a spectator among some capacity crowds at Harder Stadium, imagining the day he’d be suiting up for the Gauchos.
That day has nearly arrived.
“The most exciting part is the jump in competition level from high school and club to college,” Pacheco said. “It’s a new challenge.”
For now, the duo are enjoying their last opportunities to play together before they find themselves on opposite sides of the field.
“It’s going to be weird seeing each other on different teams,” said Jimenez, whose family is raising funds for his trip to nationals. To contribute or learn more, please visit gofundme.
About Dunn School: Dunn is a boarding and day school (grades 6-12) nestled in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, Calif. Founded in 1957 from its campus in Los Olivos, Dunn has remained true to its mission of providing whole student education for more than 60 years through its unwavering set of core values: Emotional Wellness, Physical Readiness, Intellectual Growth, Social Responsibility and Moral Courage.