Washington Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé will take a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the 2017 NWSL season, the team announced yesterday. The move comes after Labbé missed last two games with what the team called “excused absences” during last Saturday’s loss at Portland and last Wednesday’s home loss to North Carolina. Labbé also did not play in the August 26 home game against Boston but was listed as a sub.
“Steph has been an important part of our team the past two seasons and has grown and developed as a player and person,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “We have had discussions over the last couple of weeks and believe she needs some additional time away. We support and will continue to support Steph throughout this process.”
Labbé is a Canadian international player and winner of the Bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics. In her second season with the Spirit, Labbé started 17 games, making 66 total saves while recording two clean sheets. She was voted to the NWSL Team of the Month in both May and June by the NWSL Media Association.
In a statement posted to her Twitter account, Labbé said, “It is with great difficulty that Spirit and I have decided that I will take a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the season. This decision was not an easy one, but after much deliberation, we have concluded that this is what’s best for me at this time. I am truly grateful for the support and love I’ve received and would like to thank the entire Spirit organization for supporting me during this challenging time.”
In an interview aired on the Lifetime network during last Saturday’s NWSL game between the Spirit and the Portland Thorns, Labbé spoke of struggling with depression after winning the Bronze medal last year.
The Spirit have won just one game since July 1 and are on a six game winless skid. After making it to the NWSL championship game last season, the Spirit are currently tied for last place in the NWSL with the Boston Breakers at 16 points. The Spirit has posted a record of 3-13-4 this season with three games remaining. They will travel to New Jersey for a Sunday game against Sky Blue FC at 6:00 pm and will finish the season with two home games, Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 pm versus Boston and Saturday, Sept. 30 against Seattle Reign FC.
Photos by Germantown Pulse. Video courtesy Lifetime.