They have played soccer together since childhood. Soon, Santa Maria residents Christian Jimenez and Rene Pacheco will go their separate ways in the sport.

Pacheco will play for UC Santa Barbara as a forward. Jimenez will try to walk on to UC Riverside as a midfielder. Both graduated from Los Olivos-based Dunn, where they played soccer together for four years, last June.

This summer, the duo focused their attention on the United States Youth Soccer (USYS) Boys 18 Under Championships. The pair’s Santa Barbara Soccer Club played in the tournament last week in Florida.

Jimenez and Pacheco spoke from Lakeland, Florida, where the championships took place.

“We talked about (separating after so many years of soccer together) during our last year of high school,” said Jimenez.

The two first met on a Santa Maria youth soccer pitch when they were both six years old.

“We played rec league soccer together, were separated for a couple years, then played together again in middle school,” said Pacheco.

In the near future, the two will likely dwell some on separating after all these years. “Right now, the focus is on the Championships,” said Pacheco.

Santa Barbara Soccer Club beat Baltimore Celtic Soccer 1-0 on Tuesday, July 20 before falling to Kingdom Soccer Club 1-0 on Wednesday, July 21. SBSC then beat the West Florida Fames 1-0 on July 22 to advance to Saturday's semifinal. Santa Barbara lost to Las Vegas Sports Academy 2-1 on July 22. 

Jimenez and Pacheco had a hugely successful run at Dunn. Pacheco scored two goals as the Earwigs beat Pomona Ganesha 4-1 at Ganesha in the 2020 CIF Southern Section Division 6 championship game.

Pacheco earned All-CIF Section honors as an attacking midfielder that year. Jimenez was a defender for the Earwigs.

Dunn was knocked out in the semifinals of the playoffs this year. Still, Jimenez was the Tri-Valley League Defensive Player of the Year. Pacheco also earned All-League honors.

Though he was the 2021 TVL Defensive Player of the Year, “I think my best chance to break into the lineup at UCR is as a midfielder,” said Jimenez “I’ve been communicating with the UCR coaches through email, but it’s been kind of hard because of COVID.”

Jimenez said, “I haven’t been to the campus recently, but I have seen it,” because a family friend played soccer there. “I’ve been there a couple of times.”

Pacheco said he will be living the dream when he plays for the Gauchos.

“I was born in Santa Barbara, and I watched (the UCSB) soccer team for years.”

Jimenez will major in psychology at UCR. Pacheco will major in mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara.

The latter will not have much of a break upon returning home from the championships.

“(UC Santa Barbara) will start it’s pre-season training the next day,” said Pacheco.

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