Pacheco scored a hat trick in the first 37 minutes of his Sparks boys soccer team’s season opener at Incline last Thursday in a 4-0 route. Not to be left off the stat sheet, he assisted the fourth goal. He added another three goals Tuesday afternoon in an 11-0 win over Dayton.
A senior forward on the Railroaders' club, Pacheco has picked up right where he left off in 2012. After scoring 26 goals, getting selected to the all-league first team and leading his team to the state title game last season, Pacheco has grand plans for this fall.
“A state championship,” Pacheco said. “That’s really what I want to lead my team to.”
With the 2012 state title game tied in the waning minutes, the Railroaders were unable to capitalize on several shots on goal before allowing a goal on a free kick because of a handball. It was the second time in three years Sparks fell in the state title game, including winning the title in 2011.
“I still have that sour taste in my mouth,” Pacheco said. “We had that game in our hands. We just let it slip away. We didn’t play our game and I think that’s what got to us.”
In his senior campaign, Pacheco was named one of the three team captains. And despite the numerous accolades and blaring numbers he has put up, he says the leadership role is one of his proudest accomplishments in his 12 years of soccer.
“As a captain, leading my team and them looking up to me, I have to show them the right way as in discipline, as in not slacking off and going sideways,” Pacheco said.
“He was overwhelmingly picked by the players (as a captain),” SHS coach Frank Avilla said. “But like we have told Ruben, you can run them off a cliff or you can run them to success and he’s chosen to run them to success. Thank goodness.”
Avilla’s formula for success is driven by a sense of togetherness, sparked by on-field discipline. Pacheco has bought into that system.
“Our program has a lot of discipline and that is what keeps us going,” Pacheco said. That is what keeps us focused and that is what keeps us winning out on the field.
“If it wasn’t for the discipline, and it wasn’t for the communication we have, I don’t think we would have the same program.”
Pacheco has not only bought into the discipline on the field, but off it as well. He realizes he can only go as far as his academics allow him. He didn’t say his favorite hobby is playing video games, or hanging out with friends or going to the movies.
He said it was school.
“When I’m not on the field, I focus on my schoolwork,” Pacheco said. “That is my number one priority right now because I think it’s important for you to keep your grades and for you to get your education.”
“He’s matured into a fine young man,” Avilla said. “It’s taken four years, but that’s what we do here. He’s buying in. It’s hard with peer pressure these days but Ruben is a prime example of a leader.”
Last season, Avilla sent his first player, Kevin Partida, to an NCAA Div. I soccer program. Partida plays at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Pacheco aspires to become Avilla’s second player to go on to a big-time collegiate soccer, the goal to end up in Seattle, Wash.
Pacheco said he is going to start contacting college coaches shortly. He waited until this year to take the ACT and SAT tests, which is the reason for what some would describe as a ‘late’ recruiting push.
“If he can pull good grades, he’s got a couple of them (colleges) looking at him,” Avilla said.
Avilla said Pacheco is one of the best athletes he has ever “had the pleasure of working with” and believes if his senior star continues on the path he is on, “we will see him in lights.”
But Pacheco is only focusing on what he can control.
“I just want to see what I can do. Over everything, I just want to do my best. Stay on top of my thing and do what I do best.”
And by his best, he means finding the back of the net.