Fortunately for Jason Driscoll, he had been on the field at RFK Stadium before. So the 11-year-old Haymarket resident wasn't too intimidated when he appeared recently in the finals of D.C. United's Dribble, Pass and Shoot competition.
Moments before United's 2-1 win over the MetroStars Sept. 18, Driscoll scored 255 of a possible 360 points, good enough for second place in his age bracket. Lauren Morse of Bristow finished second, and Ashley Thomas of Manassas finished fourth in the girls 12-14 age division.
"I was nervous the first time I went down there, even though we were just walking around. But this time it wasn't so bad because I had been there before," said Driscoll, whose club team had visited the RFK Stadium turf two years ago. "I didn't think I did good enough to win it, so I was really happy with placing second."
Driscoll, Morse and Thomas were among 24 finalists out of more than 6,000 children from across the Washington area who participated in the competition's first year. Each of Major League Soccer's 12 teams held an identical event, paring down thousands of local players into regional finalists. The top 24 finishers league-wide will compete in a national final during halftime of MLS Cup '99 in Foxboro, Mass., Nov. 21. Neither Driscoll, Morse or Thomas qualified for the national finals.
Driscoll entered the initial stage of the competition at a local park without having practiced the timed dribble slalom, passing accuracy test or shooting test. Driscoll's score, however, qualified him for a regional competition at United's practice facility in Herndon.
"Before the regional competition, my dad and I took cones out to the field and practiced," said Driscoll, a sixth-grader at Marsteller Middle School. "I was surprised I won there because you can't tell how everybody else is doing. It was a good challenge."
Jason's brother, Darren, 7, took first place in the 6-7 age bracket, which did not compete past the local level.
CAPTION: Jason Driscoll finished second in his age division in D.C. United's Pass, Dribble and Shoot competition.