The Washington Spirit announced tonight that goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe will miss the remainder of the 2017 season due to a medical leave of absence. Labbe, after starting the first 16 games of Washington’s season, has not played in four of the club’s last five games, and had been listed as out in recent weeks on the league’s official injury report. DiDi Haracic has started in Labbe’s place, with Kelsey Wys - having recovered from an offseason ACL tear - serving as the back-up.
“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 in a team press release. “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.”
Labbe put out a statement of her own shortly after the news broke:
Here's my personal statement regarding my departure from the Spirit: pic.twitter.com/zNwNL5dYfy— Stephanie Labbé (@stephlabbe1) September 6, 2017
Labbe earned league-wide plaudits in the season’s early months. She drew praise for keeping the Spirit in several early-season games while the defense was dealing with absences and new roles, and eventually Labbe was named to the NWSL team of the month in both May and June.