What's next after 13-shutout season? Soccer: Centennial goalkeeper Christian Lewis picks up where he left off in 1995, getting two shutouts to start this season.

September 27, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Christian Lewis' enviable record speaks for itself. He really doesn't have to worry about comparisons to former Centennial goalkeepers. The senior is just the latest in a long line of outstanding ones.

Last season, Lewis' first as a starter, his team went 17-0, and he recorded 13 shutouts while allowing just seven goals. No county team scored on Centennial during the regular season.

No Centennial goalkeeper has ever had more shutouts in one season -- not even Lewis' highly regarded predecessor, Brock Yetso, who now plays for Virginia.

"You never really replace a Brock Yetso, but Christian proved himself last season and made some key saves," Centennial coach Ron Martin said. "He has nice hands, and he moves well."

Lewis and his teammates had to wait patiently for their first game this season. No county soccer team ever has waited longer.

They finally played Friday against Mount St. Joseph, and Lewis recorded -- no surprise -- another shutout, 5-0. He added another shutout against Bel Air Tuesday, 3-0.

"It was tough having to practice for a month, have your first game [against Whitman] postponed, and then have to wait another week," Lewis said. "But our team has a good chemistry. We're comfortable with each other. And it's an old team. We have 14 seniors. We really can't do any better than we did last year, but we want to build off of that and keep doing what we did."

His teammates respect Lewis' abilities, as they should.

"He's doing a good job, and he's gotten a lot taller the last couple of years," said senior foward Matt Stephenson. "He's still not as tall as Brock [6 feet 2], but he makes up for it because he's such a smart goalkeeper."

Lewis is 6 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds. He thinks his best effort last season was in the state semifinals against Thomas Stone. The game was played in a monsoon, and the outcome was decided by a shootout in which Lewis made two crucial saves.

Lewis doesn't think he has any glaring weaknesses when it comes to technical skills. But he thinks his real strength is his leadership.

"I like to communicate a lot and organize things," he said.

He enjoys the position he started playing at the age of 7.

"It's unique. You get to see everything and provide strong leadership. It's one of the crucial positions."

Lewis has grown up in Columbia and has risen through the Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC) system. But he played for the Olney Stingers club team in the spring. He recently joined the Columbia City United, which won the national under-17 championship this summer.

The Stingers finished as state runners-up. Lewis failed to beat out Josh Campbell (Patapsco) or Justin Stevens (Smithsburg) on the United last spring. Campbell has now moved on to college, thus creating an opening for Lewis.

Lewis joined Centennial's varsity at the end of his freshman season. He was a back-up his sophomore year.

"I never thought about going anywhere else, so I might start sooner. I learned a lot from Brock. Just being around him made me a better player."

Lewis learned the most about his position from Mike Curry, the director of the Umbro Goalkeeping Academy, a year-round program affiliated with SAC that attracts keepers from all over Maryland and Northern Virginia for advanced training. "So many people wanted to join it that it's restricted now," Lewis said.

Lewis also is a member of the under-17 state Olympic Development Program. He was one of two goalkeepers who traveled with that team, and last summer he participated in the Region I tournament at Rider College. His team won it. He also played in Richmond's Border Cup, which his team won.

One of the highlights of his ODP experiences was a 10-day trip to England and Wales last spring.

"We played six games and won five," he said. His ODP coach is Randy Fuller, the assistant coach at Georgetown.

Lewis wants to study physical therapy in college. He has a 3.86 grade-point average and scored 1,310 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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