Cesar Hidalgo stepped down as Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer coach last Friday and in his place stepped in Kathy Desmond and Frank Pace, who teamed up to previously coach the Tologs to the area’s only CIF Southern Section Division I soccer championship in 2011.
“We took to the job with reluctance because we wanted Cesar to return,” Pace said. “But given his situation, it was both expedient and in the best interest of the program for us to come back.”
Hidalgo announced he left the position due to coaching conflicting with his full-time job.
“It was tough to balance my job and coaching soccer,” Hidalgo said. “It was very difficult to juggle both … and do a good job with both.”
Hidalgo’s departure prompted Pace to contact Desmond for a possible return.
“She said, ‘I will if you will,’” Pace said.
Thus, the duo who shared All-Area Girls’ Soccer Coach of the Year honors multiple times and put together 13 winning campaigns out of 14 seasons coaching in tandem, will return for a minimum of the upcoming season with the tag of interim coaches. Pace said that a search will continue for a long-term replacement, but if a suitable one is not found, he and Desmond will continue past the 2014-15 season.
Hidalgo walks away after two official seasons as the head coach.
Hidalgo, who had a successful three-year stint with Crescenta Valley High previously, shared co-coaching duties with Pace in 2012-13, following Desmond stepping away. The Tologs went 15-3-3 and finished in second place in the Mission League. Last season, Hidalgo took over the reins completely and, with a very young squad featuring only three seniors, finished 9-9-2 and came up short of the playoffs with a fifth-place finish in the Mission League.
Now, Pace and Desmond, who won the program’s only two Mission League titles, a CIF Division III Southern California Regional Championship and the Division I title, will look to rekindle past achievement.
“We’ll have the tag-team approach to coaching again,” Pace said. “That seemed to have some success.”
Hidalgo believes the team is poised for a return to the top of the Mission League.
“I think that even though our record doesn’t show it last year, I think we have a lot of talent coming back,” Hidalgo said. “I wish them the best of luck.”
Desmond and Pace, who were enshrined in the school’s athletic hall of fame in February, will look to returners such as Lauren Savo, Sarah Vail and Sophia Saldivar, among others, as well as a promising incoming class when next season rolls around.
“We’re enthusiastic with this batch of kids with the incoming group and the returning kids; it gives us a pretty good chance of success next year,” Pace said. “We like the players we have.”
Thus, the Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer reunion tour has commenced.
Said Pace: “We’re putting the band back together.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.