The defending champion of the National Women’s Soccer League boosted its depth at goalkeeper Friday with the signing of Stephanie Labbe.
Labbe joins a goalkeeping core for the Courage that also includes Katelyn Rowland, who started in net for Paul Riley’s side in the championship game last season. The Courage typically use two goalkeepers over the course of a season, and the team had a spot to fill following the departure of Sabrina D’Angelo, who signed with a Swedish club in December.
“Losing [D’Angelo] was never going to be easy, but gaining [Labbe] is massive for the club,” Riley said in a statement. “She has fantastic feet, excellent organization skills, great shot blocker and has a proven presence which is crucial in the top levels of the game. Her training habits are exemplary and I’m sure Kate and Steph will push each other every day to develop their own game.”
Labbe, 32, played college soccer at UConn and has tallied 56 caps for the Canadian national team since 2008. Labbe notched clean sheets in 24 of her national team appearances. She was Canada’s starting keeper in the 2016 Rio Olympics and helped her country earn a bronze medal.
As a professional, Labbe has played for clubs in Sweden, Canada and the United States. She last played in the NWSL in the 2016-17 seasons for the Washington Spirit.
— 𝓢𝓽𝓮𝓹𝓱𝓪𝓷𝓲𝓮 𝓛𝓪𝓫𝓫𝓮́ (@stephlabbe1) February 22, 2019
Preseason slate features several colleges
The Courage weren’t done announcing news Friday evening as the reigning champs set their preseason slate for the year.
Riley’s side will play six matches leading up to the start of the NWSL’s seventh season. The first will be March 9 at 12:30 p.m. ET against Clemson University at WakeMed Soccer Park. That preseason friendly will precede North Carolina FC’s regular season opener in the USL Championship versus Louisville City.
The Courage will then host the University of North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. March 19, then play in Winston-Salem at Wake Forest University March 20 at 4 p.m.
On March 23, the Courage will host the Orlando Pride in the first game of a doubleheader being called “the Friendship Cup” at WakeMed. The second game that day will be a men’s friendly between North Carolina FC and Liga MX side Necaxa.
The Courage will round out their preseason slate against two other college teams, hosting South Carolina on March 30 and Virginia on April 6.
With the exception of the game against Orlando, all preseason matches will be free to attend for the general public. Tickets for the Friendship Cup are available online.