It’s not every day you break a school record — or at least tie one in this case.
But that’s exactly what Wenatchee senior forward Jose ‘Lalo’ Camarillo accomplished this past season after scoring 17 goals, tying the mark set by Luis Navarette a couple of years ago.
For most, the feat would feel like a monumental accomplishment, backed by years of determination, but for Lalo, personally, the achievement is just another feather in the cap. Another stepping stone to greatness so-to-speak. In other words, not that big a deal.
When he tied the mark with his game-winning goal over Davis in the final minute of stoppage time a few weeks ago, the fact that it gave his team the win meant a helluva lot more than scoring No. 17.
“Anyone can care about it, and I do care a little, but it was more important (to me) to get the win,” Camarillo said in a sit-down interview with the World prior to the start of the district playoffs. “Just to advance and keep going forward, I don’t want the season to end already. Honestly, my only thought (after scoring) was about getting ready for Moses Lake.”
Teammates and friends started to make Camarillo aware of the record as he was edging closer, but he didn’t pay too much attention to it, focusing only on the game ahead. His coach, Dennis Tronson, remained hush about it also so as not to jinx him — though both Tronson and Camarillo had talked in the fall and settled on somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 goals scored.
“We set that for each other back in October,” Tronson said. “We just ran out of games. He will probably go back and say ‘Coach, I had 20 because I left some out there...’ but I thought he was at that level. Every time he touches the ball he creates for himself or for his team and he proved that he is the true No. 10 out there and you have to be all over him because he can create magic out of nothing.”
That’s pretty much what Camarillo was tasked with all season. He scored 17 of the Panthers’ 29 goals this season and was typically involved one way or another in the other 12 — essentially carrying the team on his back offensively.
He’s come a long way from being the wiry 115-pound freshman that helped lead the Panthers to a state title in 2015.
“He has matured not only as a player but also as a young man; understanding how hard you have to work and getting teammates to come along (as well),” Tronson said of Camarillo. “From his freshman year, where he was trying to figure out the fit on JV, to starting in the state championship game because of injury, and finally to where he is at now as the team captain with all the scoring accolades, he has never talked about it. He has that maturity as a player where he is never satisfied with his game, and that is what really made him so effective.”
In a league as deep and talented as the Big 9, Tronson is on the record saying he believes Camarillo is the best player in the league, though Lalo himself is more bashful in that respect, considering himself to be only in the upper echelon of the talent pool.
Camarillo knows that he has skills few in the league possess, but he doesn’t let it go to his head.
That modest, nonchalant mentality is something that can be traced back to Lalo’s father, Eduardo, who played soccer while Lalo was growing up in Abasolo Guanajuato, Mexico and guided his son into the sport after they came to Wenatchee when Lalo was in fourth grade.
From an early age, Eduardo instilled a passion for the game, but also a sense of humility.
Regardless of how many goals or assists Lalo would record, there was always room for improvement. He is, and always has been, Lalo’s number one coach.
“Sometimes during a game, he whistles at me to get my attention and he tells me what to do with my movements and I understand him,” Camarillo said. “He always told me that ‘while you play with your feet, they are just tools to create, your brain is how you think and see everything. He knows a lot about soccer. At first, I was like ‘no’, but I started to realize he was right when I got older and began listening to his advice.”
At times, his advice can be tough, but it’s always honest.
“I like that about him,” Camarillo said of his dad. “If I didn’t play well he tells me. Even when I have a good game, he gives me things to work on.”
For instance, after Lalo scored four goals in a win over Moses Lake in early April, his dad still pointed out a couple of instances where he could have made a better run or pass into space.
“That has really helped me out a lot,” Lalo said. “There is always something I can improve.”
Now in his senior year, Lalo helped establish that competitive atmosphere for the younger guys coming up, including both freshmen Tyler Wisen and Marcos Bravo, who were both called up from JV midway through the season and started to play pivotal minutes on varsity — similar to what Camarillo did as a freshman.
“It took a while for Tyler and him to mesh, but they started to create some of our better combinations toward the end of the season and then adding Marcos on the flank was another level for the team and gave us a different look,” Tronson said.
Unfortunately for Camarillo and the Wenatchee faithful, the season came to an end last week after the Panthers fell 2-1 on the road to Sunnyside. But Lalo’s playing days are far from over.
The senior recently had a tryout for WVC and is planning on staying in town to play with the Knights next season.
A talented team no doubt, Tronson considers Lalo to be one of the most skilled players he’s coached and believes he will have no trouble finding the field next year in college.
“He isn’t one that cowers away from physical play and he still has some growth in him,” Tronson said. “I think he will step in right away and it will be exciting to see him develop as a player. There have been a lot of great players to come through our program and a lot of good shooters and finishers. Jose is a finisher. You get him the ball in scoring position and he is going to put it on frame. That’s what I’ll look back on and appreciate so much.”