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Patience pay off for Seton-La Salle graduate Betancourt at Dayton

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Chris Rieman, UDPride | for trib total media
Seton-La Salle graduate Heather Betancourt.

Brentwood native Heather Betancourt learned a lot about patience and perseverance as she waited along the sidelines for the University of Dayton women’s soccer team.

The redshirt junior has struggled with injuries throughout her soccer career. But the waiting ended mid-October when Betancourt was designated as the Flyers’ starting goalkeeper for the senior recognition game.

Dayton posted a 2-0 victory against Fordham. Betancourt then started seven more games, helping the Flyers win the A-10 Coference championship and qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Betancourt ended the 2014 season with a 6-1-1 record, with three shutouts.

Dayton coach Mike Tucker said Betancourt made good use of her time on the sideline. She worked faithfully with the training staff, practiced hard and cheered on her teammates. It paid off Oct. 18 when she registered three saves in an impressive outing versus Fordham.

“She performed better than good. She was spectacular really,” Tucker said.

Betancourt was happy her mother, Jennifer Pribanic, could be there to see her play that day, and during the conference tournament.

“(Senior day) was the first full game I played and I didn’t know if it would be my last,” Betancourt said. “My mom didn’t get to see a lot of my games when I was younger. She was really excited. I think she finally understands how much soccer means to me.”

Betancourt finished out the year in goal for the Flyers, who fell to No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Betancourt recorded a career-high 12 saves in the 4-0 loss to the Hokies.

“Shame on us for not throwing her in there earlier in the season,” Tucker said.

“She’s been great. She made the plays we needed, including some acrobatic saves.”

Betancourt transferred to Dayton after a year at Washington & Jefferson College, where she played in six games.

She has a dual major of exercise science and English, and hopes to finish her exercise science studies next fall.

She also is considering whether or not to use her final year of eligibility to play another season of soccer for Dayton.

“We’re hopeful she’ll stick around,” Tucker said. “She seems pretty motivated right now.”

The 20-year-old Betancourt is leaning toward returning for another season.

“I want to come back because I’m on a high right now. But, we did lose a lot of good players,” she said.

“I think we could have a really good year next season, and that’s a reason to come back.”

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.

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