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By: Kerin Maguire
Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer
Canadian National goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé joined the Spirit only a few months ago after being allocated by the Canadian Soccer Association. Labbé had a major role to fill as the Spirit’s longtime goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was taken by the Orlando Pride during the expansion draft in the off season. Labbé, who also serves as the starting keeper for Canada, has proven to be a tremendous addition to the squad and a good competitive training partner for the Spirit’s other goalkeeper, Kelsey Wys.
Labbé first gained recognition as a ‘keeper when she attended the University of Connecticut. She helped the Huskies advance in multiple of the NCAA Big East College Tournaments and was awarded Big East goalkeeper of the year in 2008. After college, she went on to have a successful careers for club teams Pitea and KIF Orebro in Sweden.
Prior to the start of the current NWSL season, it was announced that Labbé would join several of her Canadian National Teammates on the Washington Spirit as allocated players. Since arriving, she has helped the Spirit maintain a nearly perfect season thus far and is currently tied for first place in clean sheets with five, along with Alyssa Naeher of the Chicago Red Stars.
Photo Credit: Tony Quinn/ISI Photos
Labbé knows her success is due to a team effort, especially with her back line. Right back Ali Krieger, center backs Megan Oyster and Shelina Zadorsky, and left back Alyssa Kleiner have made it difficult for shots to even reach Labbé.
“The biggest thing for me is to keep communicating, always letting people know where there are players on their shoulders,” Labbé has said about working with the defenders. “They come up big in different moments.”
Last weekend, Labbé earned a clean sheet against Orlando Pride in front of a sold out crowd of fans, families, and the loyal and loud Spirit Squadron. The fans have taken to Labbé, welcoming her to Washington DC with exuberance.
“The crowd was really instrumental for us in the sense that when we weren’t having good periods of play their energy really lifted us back up and that is ultimately what helped us get that shutout and get the three points,” she extolled.
After being named to the Canadian Olympic team earlier this week, Labbé will leave the Spirit temporarily to represent her country on the world’s stage in Rio. But before she goes, Labbé looks forward to continuing her run with the Spirit this Saturday against Sky Blue FC at home.
Get tickets here to see Labbé and the rest of the Spirit take on regional rival Sky Blue FC this Saturday, June 25th at 7pm at the Maryland SoccerPlex.