Dieter's 5th season with Spirit nothing short of memorable Surgery only low point for Curley, UMBC product

February 28, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

In Jason Dieter's fifth season with the Spirit, the good events have far outnumbered the bad, off the field as well as on.

The most recent was last Saturday, when he raised his career-high goals total for one season to 18 with three in the loss to the Kansas City Attack.

As the Spirit prepares for tonight's game against the Edmonton Drillers at Baltimore Arena, Dieter is only three shy of his career best in points, 44 in his rookie season of 1992-93.

It all began last fall with what Dieter calls a "bittersweet" experience. He and his father, Jerry, co-coaches of Catholic High's girls soccer team, directed the Cubs to a 15-2-1 record and a No. 5 ranking in The Sun's final poll.

"It was such a great year that it's a shame we came up short in the final, losing to St. Mary's, 1-0, for the Catholic League championship," Dieter said.

Five days before Christmas, along came Ryan Gregory Dieter, the first child for Jason and Karen. Dieter played the next night in Philadelphia, registering five blocks and an assist in a win over the Kixx.

"They tell you that you get very little sleep," Dieter said, smiling. "That's a lie. You don't get any sleep. But I've got to say it's well worth it."

Arthroscopic knee surgery was next, Jan. 14. On his first night back, he scored two goals against Philadelphia, and despite missing seven games he is fourth on the team in points (41), and leads in restart goals (eight) and blocks (34).

When Mike Stankovic succeeded Dave MacWilliams as coach last winter, Dieter wasn't playing much and his confidence was shaky. All Dieter had to hear from Stankovic was: "You're going to play all the time."

Said Stankovic: "I'm not surprised Jason's playing well. He's a quality, versatile player. I'm just giving him the freedom to express his talent."

A midfielder or forward at Archbishop Curley High and UMBC, Dieter was signed by the Spirit as a defender. This season, however, Stankovic is employing him more at forward than at any time in his pro career.

Clearly, he is prospering. "Maybe it's just my year," Dieter said.

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Edmonton Drillers

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7:35

Radio: Updates after each quarter on WWLG (1360 AM) and WASA (1330 AM) Outlook: Bobby Joe Esposito, the Spirit's No. 3 scorer, will miss all three games this weekend with pneumonia. D Ronnie Simmons (thigh) and rookie Shane Dougherty (ankle) are probable. The Spirit had won a season-high three straight until losing to the Kansas City Attack on Saturday.

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