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Veterans don't scare Green Devils captain

Brittney Lewis has plenty of experience facing older players.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 7, 2001


The gap between a freshman and a senior is only four years, but sometimes, it can seem like a hundred. Trying to get situated in a new school as well as fitting in with a new team can be a daunting task.

But for St. Petersburg's Brittney Lewis, it was no big deal. She has been playing with the big boys for a long time.

As a freshman last season, Lewis, who turns 16 later this month, made an immediate impact as a defender. This season, she has moved to midfield and scored eight goals and added 10 assists for the 8-3-1 Green Devils. Although just a sophomore, she's St. Petersburg's captain.

"Of all the better players that I've seen throughout the years, like Katie Calvin, Erin Bitterli and Lindsay Hawkins, none of them played as freshmen like she played," St. Petersburg coach Rui Farias said. "She's just very knowledgeble as well as talented. Sometimes, I'll say to the girls, 'Okay, you need to look at this, this and this,' and you can see they don't understand. With her, it's not like that. She picks it up like that."

Lewis started her career playing with the boys on an Azalea Eagles under-9 team. From there, she graduated to an under-15 team with the Clearwater Chargers even though she was two years younger than her teammates.

Despite being 15, she was asked to play for an under-18 team at Countryside. She currently plays for the under-18 Blackwatch team in Tampa, for which she is the youngest player. "It never really bothered me," Lewis said. "I played with the guys first. Then I played an age up with the girls. So playing up in age hasn't been a big deal. You have to play your own game anyway. If you make a mistake, you have to think about what you need to improve no matter what team you're on."

Lewis is a defender for her club team, but for St. Petersburg, she is a central midfielder. It's her job to distribute the ball and control the midfield.

She said trying to stop older players as a defender helps her as a midfielder.

"I think it helps me because you can anticipate where the ball's coming from and what's going to happen," Lewis said. "I know what I feel like when I'm back there, so I kind of have an idea where they're going to play the ball."

PCAC TOURNAMENT: Like the boys, the PCAC champion will be decided in a weeklong tournament. The tournament begins Jan. 22, and the final is Jan. 26.

Pairings for the tournament were selected prior to the season. The first two rounds will be at various sites and the semifinals and final will be at a South Division site to be determined.

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