Jake Pace, a former soccer star at River Hill High School, had never met Columbia native Michael Dello-Russo until last year, even though both had similar career paths that took them from Howard County to College Park.
Dello-Russo is a former Wilde Lake High soccer standout who played at the University of Maryland.
He then played at the professional level before joining the Maryland coaching staff before the 2010 season.
“We crack jokes since he went to Wilde Lake,” said Pace, now a redshirt sophomore defender/forward for the Terps. “One time I was wearing (River Hill) green and he was cracking jokes. It is neat we are from the same area.”
Pace began playing organized soccer with the Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC).
“Then eventually I played travel soccer and we ended up having a pretty good team,” said Pace, the son of Jeffery and Bonnie Pace of Clarksville.
As a junior at River Hill he scored the game-winning goal when his team beat Loch Raven for the state title.
“It was a good memory," he said. "It is one I will keep for a long time but hopefully I will get some more like that."
After high school Pace decided to play for the Terps, who won national titles in 2005 and 2008, under veteran head coach and long-time Howard County resident Sasho Cirovski.
He played in six games for Maryland last year as redshirt freshman, mostly as a defender. He saw action in the win over Virginia in the semifinals of the ACC championship.
Pace comes from an athletic family. His father played football at the University of Wyoming and his mother is a personal trainer.
He is the fourth generation on his mother’s side of the family to attend Maryland.
Pace will have to wait his turn on the talented Terps, who were ranked No. 2 in the nation and were 11-0-1 overall before the Oct. 7 at Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia.
Pace saw action in five of the first 12 games.
“Everyone around me is very good,” Pace said. “They are a lot of good vibes since we are on a winning streak.”
Pace had the first two goals of his college career on Tuesday as he came off the bench to score twice in less than a minute in the second half as Maryland beat visiting Adelphi, 2-0.
The Terps, now ranked No. 3 in the nation, improved to 12-1-1.