April 30, 2013
HOPING FOR A LONG REIGN
Flushing's Betos backstopping Seattle in NWSL
After competing for teams in four cities and two countries to play professional soccer, Seattle Reign goalkeeper Michelle Betos hopes that the new National Women’s Soccer League is more stable than the two previous pro women’s leagues.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of this new professional league, and to have the opportunity to play,” Betos recently said. “I really believe this league is here to stay. Playing overseas is a great experience but nothing compares to the level of play here in the United States, or to the feeling of getting to play in front of friends and family.”
The 25-year-old from Flushing, N.Y. served as the back-up goalkeeper for the Long Island Fury in 2006. As an 18-year-old, she helped the Fury to the Women’s Premier Soccer League national championship in their expansion season. It was then on to the University of Georgia, where she made 316 career saves, ranking third all-time at the school, and second in shutouts (26) and wins (48).
During the 2009 W-League season, Betos played for the Atlanta Silverbacks. She led Atlanta to the Southeast Division title with a 10-1-1 record and was named W-League goalkeeper of the year. In 2011, Betis played keeper for the WPSL’s Boston Aztec Breakers reserve team. She was in goal for the New York Fury of WPSL Elite last summer, then for Cyprus’ Apollon Limassol in the UEFA Champions League.
Betos, who can speak a little Greek, talked about communication with her defense.
“As a goalkeeper, it’s obviously very important to communicate so the Apollon players and I created our own language–– a mix of English and Greek –– that allowed our points to get across in the run of play,” she said.
In youth soccer, Betos played for the Olympic Development Program of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Region 1 ODP Team, both for three years, fitting the pattern that 86 percent of the American players in NWSL were members of ODP as teenagers. She also played for the Albertson Fury ‘87 of the Long Island Junior Soccer League.
Paul Riley coached her on all three Fury teams –– Albertson Fury ‘87, Long Island Fury and New York Fury.
“Michelle has developed through a tough training regimen and a desire to play at the highest level," he said. "She is a true professional with great hands, brilliant agility and solid feet. Terrific organizer and locker room personality. From the day I met her with Albertson Fury ‘87, I knew she would be a professional goalkeeper. She will be training with Hope Solo everyday and her competitive nature with show itself for sure.”
Betos completed her youth career by serving as team captain for two years and was the 2005 Most Valuable Player of St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens.
She started playing soccer at age 5 but how exactly she ended up in goal is a story that she is not shy about sharing.
“I figured out early on that I could have pockets in my shorts and keep some Skittles in them, and that’s literally how I started playing goalie," Betos said. "I didn’t want to run and then I realized that I could just have some candy during the game."