It’s hard to look at Jacob Pacheco, see the frame of a prototypical college lacrosse midfielder at 6-2, 195 pounds, and imagine that the Boys’ Latin (Md.) and Crabs middie was anything but one of the best players in his class.
For the Denver (Colo.) native, though, getting to that elite level wasn’t something that happened overnight. It’s a far cry from where he stood when he first started to play.
“When I was in sixth grade and below, I was kind of a chubby kid and I couldn’t move well,” Pacheco said with a laugh. “After that, I had hit a huge growth spurt and kind of learned how to run. Since then, I’ve been training and I’ve been able to get stronger and faster so I can keep an edge on some of these guys. I think I got an advantage over some of the kids who weren’t working as hard as I was, and I put in a lot of time and effort to come out a better player and person.”
It’s a much different-looking Pacheco these days, one that has vaulted his way into the conversation of the class of 2023’s elite prospects. He checks in at No. 10 in our first NLFRankings.com class of ’23 rankings, one of five midfielders in the top 10. Pacheco is one of four Crabs to slot into the top 60, followed by No. 22 in defenseman AJ Marsh (McDonogh, Md.), No. 23 in defenseman Quintan Kilrain (Lawrenceville, N.J.) and No. 40 in attackman Owen Dixon (Loyola Blakefield, Md.). That quartet is a major reason why the Crabs are our No. 1-ranked ’23 team heading into a huge summer for the ’23 class.
Big Move East
Another major change happened for Pacheco this year, too. With the uncertainty of the high school season in Colorado and his familiarity with the Baltimore landscape, he eyed transferring to a school where he knew he’d be able to play at this spring. He transferred mid-year to perennial national powerhouse Boys’ Latin after starting his high school career at Valor Christian (Colo.).
“The Colorado season got pushed back a little bit and I wanted to get playing as much as I could, so that was my motivation to look out (to the MIAA)” Pacheco said. “I played with the Crabs over the summer and connected with some of the families. When I went to look at playing in the MIAA, it seemed like a no-brainer because I had some friends that would already be there. It’s every kid’s dream to play in the MIAA.”
Pacheco has already carved himself out a niche in a loaded Laker lineup, playing some two-way midfielder and earning a good chunk of time as a short-stick defensive midfielder, too. That came on the heels of a strong 2020 summer, including when he put on a show as a standout for the Mid-America 2023 team at the Nike Nationals. He’ll have to wait a bit in order to become one of the top dogs at Boys’ Latin, but that doesn’t faze him. He prefers it that way.
“It’s a lot faster out here. The kids are so skilled and smart,” Pacheco said. “It’s exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to get my butt kicked a little bit and I want to be able to hang with some of the best kids in the country and the world. I’m just hoping to get comfortable and start moving at the same speed as the other guys.”
Denver Native Will Be In Demand on 9.1
It’s a testament to his overall ability that Pacheco has immediately cracked a stacked lineup. Once he gets back out with the Crabs this summer, you won’t have to strain your eyes too hard to find him. He’ll be the one making splash plays all over the field, much in the same way he did in January to earn an All-Star nod in the 2023 All-Star Game at the NLF Futures at IMG event. In the shot clock era, midfielders like Pacheco are worth their weight in gold, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be a hot commodity on Sept. 1.
“I kind of pride myself on my first step,” Pacheco said, “and beating my man with the first step and being able to finish. Playing defense has always been my style, too. I take pride that I have the knowledge and ability to play defense, and I can really help out a team by playing defense.”
He’s the type of player that can help his team anywhere on the field, not just on defense.