The Maryland men’s soccer team has hired former River Hill standout Jake Pace as its second assistant, coach Sasho Cirovski announced Monday.
Pace, who played for the Terps from 2009-13, spent the past four seasons as the program’s director of operations.
“I am extremely humbled, honored and excited to join the coaching staff at my beloved Maryland,” Pace said in a press release. “As a player I truly appreciated the effort the coaches put into making my experience absolutely incredible. As the director of operations, I marveled at all of the behind the scenes programming the coaches invested each day that gave life to our mantra of ‘building champions, pursuing championships’. I became inspired to be a coach and can't wait to both recruit and develop the next generation of Maryland soccer student-athletes. Sasho has been my mentor throughout my nine-year association with this program and I want to thank him for this great opportunity.”
Pace, a Clarksville native, knew he wanted to play for Maryland ever since he attended a game on campus for the first time when he was about 10 years old. He worked tireless to make that goal a reality.
He spent his high school years starring at River Hill, where he helped the Hawks win a state title as a freshman in 2005 and then again in 2007. Pace served as the hero of the latter championship game, knocking home the game-winning header in overtime to lift the program to what was then its fifth state title the past six seasons.
The goal capped a remarkable season for Pace, who was named the Howard County Times boys soccer Player of the Year.
"He was just dominant," River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said of Pace back in 2007. "You look at his size, and he's intimidating. And then you think with that size he can't move very well, but he does. He worked hard, won all the balls in the middle and constantly sent great through balls."
After a decorated high school career, he made his childhood dream a reality by choosing Maryland over schools such as Penn State and George Washington and developed himself into a prominent reserve for the Terps, helping them reach the College Cup in 2012 and 2013 in his final two seasons. During that stretch, he combined to make 49 appearances and score 11 of his 13 career goals.
Pace, a fourth generation Terp, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology but wouldn’t be leaving College Park. Cirovski hired him as the team’s director of operations prior to the 2014 campaign, and he would serve in that role — managing the team’s budget, fundraising efforts and travel logistics — for the next four seasons.
Then came Monday’s promotion, which gives Pace the opportunity to work directly with the type of players he grew up aspiring to be like.
“Jake has been an outstanding director of operations for our program for the past four years,” Cirovski said in a press release. “He is fully prepared and very enthused to transition into collegiate coaching and I am confident that he will do a tremendous job in all facets of the job. He was an outstanding leader and player for us who was truly loved by all of his teammates and our fans. Our players are thrilled for Jake and I know all of our Maryland soccer community will be very happy to welcome him into his new role.”