Vacaville High Footballer Nate Beltran Is Athlete of the Week – The Vacaville Reporter
When someone sees Nate Beltran, the Vacaville High junior is often seen with a soccer ball between his feet, or at least one nearby.
Vacaville head coach Tony Bullard can attest to one thing: This Bulldog’s love of the game is untested.
“He’s a winner and he wants to win with his team,” Bullard said. “He loves the game more than anyone I know at this point. As a child, he is there to train and he is there early. He never misses a workout.
Beltran capped off a strong week of Monticello Empire League play, scoring five goals in two games, including a hat-trick against Fairfield on Friday to earn Reporter Athlete of the Week honors.
Completing his second season, Beltran has risen to the rank of being one of the top performers on the show. This season, expectations have risen for Beltran to become an even more vital leader, according to Bullard.
“We’ve lost some key seniors, and some of our juniors are now working seniors, but Nate, I expected him to come in and do that,” Bullard said. “The boy lives and breathes football, he has come to train with the best in the region.”
These expectations are in line with expectations Beltran set on himself as he figured out what he could do best for the team after the team went 8-0-2 in the shortened COVID season in the spring. .
“Last year we had a great season and I wanted to keep that pace throughout my junior year,” Beltran said. “Just to keep working on my skills and movement off the ball. I just want to make sure that this year we will have another successful year.
After entering the league with a 3-0-1 record, the Bulldogs won their first league game against Vanden, a 3-1 win. Going into their game against the Falcons, they knew they were going to face a solid goaltender in Fairfield’s Luis Pech. Beltran wanted to take up the challenge.
“When I face players like that, I like it because I know how badly they want it, I want it,” Beltran said. “I know I’m not going to say ‘Oh whatever, I know I’m going to run into someone who wants to block me and disown me.’ When I know that, I feel more like scoring and putting it in the back of the net for my team.
Where Beltran thrives the most is when faced with only one opponent standing between him and his shot, and something that is a facet of his game that he has added more hours to. With his first goal, he was put in that scenario and able to capitalize on it.
“When I get into this position, I already have the idea of what I’m doing before I even do it,” Beltran said. “I also do it in training, where I get 1-on-1 and it’s a nice, clean pace.”
Then, put in the same in-game scenario, Beltran scored again when he was tasked to pass a single defender.
“He picked it up and he took the guy 1-on-1 and he made it simple,” Bullard said. “Nate makes everything simple.”
To end his evening, Beltran approached the goalkeeper and faced immense physicality from the defenders, drawing a foul near the goal area, leading to a penalty. Thus, Bullard encouraged Beltran to secure his hat trick with this next shot.
“From there it was ‘Nate, go score your third goal and finish it,'” Bullard told Beltran.
Clearing his mind and ready to make a decision without hesitation, Beltran’s game plan for a penalty is simple.
“I just focus on getting the ball in the back of the net,” Beltran said. “You just have to disconnect and focus on getting that ball into the back of the net. When I line up, I always make sure I come up confidently.
When he kicked the ball in the line of his choice, Pech made a solid save that ricocheted off Beltran. Capitalizing on it, Beltran then kicked the ball back into the back of the net to secure his hat trick. Grateful to play his goalscoring role, Beltran also likes when his teammates score as well, as three more goals were scored that night by senior Jake Lander, Jose Antonio Reyes and second Elias Ordonez.
“I’m happy when my teammates score because at the end of the day it’s part of a team, it makes our team better and it makes our team win,” Beltran said.
Beltran is excited to take on the rest of MEL with his teammates in the coming weeks in hopes of chasing a league title.
“I’m really excited because I get to play against kids I know and friends I play with, so playing against people from my town is fun,” Beltran said. “A little rivalry is always fun, but I’m excited to be able to do another season with the team. My team is going to be very strong and we have good chemistry.
When Beltran isn’t on the cusp of orange and black for the Bulldogs, he’s a key member of the club’s Davis Legacy football team, which plays year-round.