Women's Soccer News: New York Fury Add Johnson, Betos and Spencer
The New York Fury have added three more top names to their roster for the 2012 Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) season. Joining coach Paul Riley’s squad will be former Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) players Estelle Johnson and Michelle Betos and 2012 WPS Draft pick Jasmyne Spencer. The three join a Fury team that recently announced the addition of Brittany Taylor, Nikki Kryzysik and Tina DiMartino.
Estelle Johnson is no stranger to Riley’s style of soccer, having played for him with the WPS Philadelphia Independence for the past two seasons. The talented defender, who was acquired during the dispersal draft from the Los Angeles Sol, played 28 games for Philadelphia, starting 23 and amassing over 2000 minutes on the pitch. Johnson played a key role in the Independence’s two runs to the WPS Championships in 2010 and 2011. Following the 2011 WPS season she signed with Sydney FC for the Australian W-League season.
Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, Johnson starred at Rocky Mountain High School, earning all-conference first team honors three years and all-state twice. She was part of the ODP Region IV pool for two years, as well. Johnson was also named team MVP twice and best defensive player as a freshman.
Johnson attended the University of Kansas, where her consistency and talent brought her numerous accolades. As a freshman she played in 19 games with 18 starts and was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. In her senior year Johnson was named to several All teams, including the All-Big 12 First Team, the NSCAA All-Central Region Second Team, the Soccer Buzz All-Central Region Third Team and the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team.
"Estelle is a tremendous athlete with excellent defensive qualities,” said Riley of the University of Kansas and WPS standout. “She is a consistent performer that will give us an attacking presence and proven experience at the highest level."
Michelle Betos is another player with WPS experience on her resume. The Brooklyn-born goalkeeper had a trial with Boston Breakers and played for the Breakers Reserve in 2011. Betos, whose father was a semi-pro goalie in his native Greece, also spent time with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the USL and had international experience with River Plate in Argentina.
Betos had an exceptional youth career with Albertson Fury before moving on to the University of Georgia, where she finished as the school’s second-leading goalkeeper in wins (48) and third in saves (316) and shutouts (26). In her senior season she notched eight clean sheets, including three straight, while starting 22 matches and playing over 1900 minutes.
'I know Michelle well and she has superb natural ability,” said Riley, who knew the net minder at Albertson Fury. “To be reunited with her is a special day and my expectations are very high. With her talent and work ethic she will be a huge plus for our NY Fury franchise."
Jasmyne “Jaz” Spencer is another player with experience in the Riley system, playing in the Albertson Fury youth system and then helping the Long Island Fury to the WPSL Championship in 2009. Spencer, who grew up in the Bay Shore, N.Y., area, spent her collegiate career with the University of Maryland and was a finalist for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior Class Awards. She was the 23rd pick overall in the 2012 WPS Draft, chosen by Philadelphia.
As a Terrapin, Spencer played in 74 games, with 66 starts, scoring 22 goals and adding 14 assists for a total of 58 points. When she graduated she ranked in the top ten in career points, goals, shots and game-winning goals. She also had top-ten spots for single season goals, points and shots. In addition to her Lowe’s honor, Spencer earned nods from Soccer America, NSCAA and TopDrawerSoccer.com.
"I've always said Jaz can play at any level she wants,” said Riley. “She has dynamic qualities that make her a handful for any defense. She was so excited to play in WPS and I'm hoping she continues to improve her game and can bring plenty of memorable highlights to the NY Fury fans.”
After the disappointment of the cancellation of the 2012 WPS season, Riley has been working hard to bring the success he had in two seasons with Philadelphia back to New York, where he has had a major role in the Fury system.
“We want to create, first and foremost, an atmosphere within the club that embraces a team culture of training at full capacity,” Riley explained, “being competitive inside every session and understanding that mental, physical and nutritional all have their part to play in being a complete player.”
Explaining his goals and expectations for the 2012 WPSL season, Riley said, “I like technical players with a broad understanding of the game. Players who will work hard at their weaknesses and make their strengths fit into the overall team picture. We will try to re-create our Philadelphia culture in New York. We have a good mix of top class players and youthful exuberance so I'm hoping the mix will be a good combination for success.”
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