Aubrey BledsoeDiDi HaracicKelsey WysPosition Previews

With the 2018 season beginning on Saturday, Follow Your Spirit brings you a break down of each position group on the Washington Spirit. First up, the goalkeepers.

The Group

#1 – Aubrey Bledsoe

  • Age: 26
  • Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

#21 – DiDi Haracic

  • Age: 25
  • Hometown: Round Hill, Virginia

#19 – Kelsey Wys

  • Age: 27
  • Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida


On January 23, 2018, the Washington Spirit traded for a new number one goalkeeper. Aubrey Bledsoe, who started 11 games for Orlando in 2017, would replace Stephanie Labbé. Despite some less than stellar numbers in the preseason, expect Bledsoe to have a solid season between the pipes for Washington.

The more interesting aspect of this group is who will be the backup. It was unclear who would get the number two spot for 2018. When the roster was released Monday afternoon, the picture was as blurry as ever. With both DiDi Haracic and Kelsey Wys making the roster, it appears as if the competition will stem through at least the first month of the year. While Haracic played seven games in 2017, Wys was held out as she continued to recover from an ACL tear in late 2016. The biggest question going forward is how close to 100 percent is Kelsey Wys.

Player to Watch

Aubrey Bledsoe is the player to watch in 2018. The biggest question is how she will handle being the outright starter from day 1.

“I’ve been wanting to get minutes in the NWSL for a couple years now,” Bledsoe said after the last preseason game. “As a backup keeper, it’s all about being ready for an opportunity when it comes and it came. I thought I did fairly well. Every game I progressed and tried to take something and add it to my game. Now I’m a completely different player, much more confident, better with my feet, reading the game, just the speed of play, I’ve adjusted to it a bit and I’m excited to step into the Spirit this year and it’s an opportunity to be the outright starter. I’m really excited for that and hopefully, I can lead the defense and have a good season here with the Spirit.”

Bledsoe played for Sydney FC of the Australian W-League in the offseason. Bledsoe found out about the trade while still playing in Australia.

“I was excited,” Bledsoe said. “I got a call in the middle of the night from Coach Sermanni. I’d actually missed his call earlier and I knew I was traded so I stayed up really late till he called me back and I was just like ‘what team, what team?’ I figured there was a chance it could be the Spirit. I actually played for Jim [Gabarra] my rookie year at Sky Blue in New Jersey. So I talked to Tom and then Jim called me right away and it was a short conversation because I was really tired.”

Next Up

Tomorrow’s preview will take a look at the defense for the Spirit. With new faces and limited numbers, this is one of the position groups with the most change heading into 2018.

Alyssa KleinerAndi SullivanArielle ShipAshley HatchAubrey BledsoeBriana ScurryCheyna WilliamsDiDi HaracicEstelle JohnsonHavana SolaunJim GabarraJoanna LohmanJordan SmallKelsey WysMallory PughPodcastPreaseasonRebecca QuinnRose LavelleSchuyler DeBreeShelina ZadorskySpirit SquadronStephanie LabbeTaylor SmithTori HusterWhitney Church

Joanna Lohman smiles at ref

Jordan Small and Timothy Lawson connect after four weeks since the last podcast. The two hosts cover every bit of news that has released in February, plus a couple announcements for Follow Your Spirit. Enjoy!

Jordan: @Jols98

Tim: @TimLawson21

Follow Your Spirit: @SpiritCoverage

Cheyna WilliamsDiDi HaracicEstefania BaniniEstelle JohnsonGame Day CoverageJim Gabarra

After more than a month on the road, the Washington Spirit returned to the Maryland SoccerPlex to take on the Boston Breakers. Despite having the lead twice in the match, the Spirit would only take away one point in the 2-2 draw.

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Starting XI: Haracic; Johnson, Church, Zadorsky, Dydasco; Banini, Dougherty Howard, Huster; Pugh, Ship, Solaun

Washington opened the scoring in the sixth minute on a goal from Estelle Johnson. The right back, who has been more engaged in the attack in recent weeks, saw her original shot blocked by Boston goalkeeper Abby Smith. The rebound fell right to Johnson who slotted home her second goal of the season.

“We worked all week on getting a lot of numbers forward and one thing that they really wanted from me is to contribute more to the attack,” Johnson said after the game.” I just saw it happening and we work a lot on passing patterns. I saw it happening in my head and I was like this is my chance. I kind of stole it from [Solaun] but sometimes you have to take initiative to get what you want.”

The Spirit looked as if they would take a 1-0 lead into the half, but a goal from Canadian international Adriana Leon brought the visitors back even. Leon tucked home her first of two goals on the afternoon just past Spirit goalkeeper DiDi Haracic in the 44th minute.

Around the halfway point of the second half, forward Cheyna Williams reclaimed the lead for the home side. Forward Estefania Banini played a ball towards the Boston goal where Smith made a tip save off the bar. The rebound, however, would fall right to the waiting head of Williams, who tapped the ball just over the goal line.

Leon would complete her brace in the 79th minute with the help of forward Ifeoma Onumonu. As Leon broke towards the center of the box, Onumonu played a ball across the face of goal, connecting with Leon’s left foot for the equalizer.

The tie on Saturday completed a stretch of three games in eight days for Washington. In total, 17 different players saw the field for the Spirit over the three game stretch. Haracic saw her first game action as a member of the Spirit on Saturday, making one save in the tie.

“We were always going to rotate the roster and that included the goalkeeper,” head coach Jim Gabarra said. “DiDi has done a great job in training and deserved a game at some point.”

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Haracic during her first match for the Washington Spirit.

For Haracic, a Round Hill, VA native, it was an opportunity to play a professional match close to home. It was her first time playing at the Maryland SoccerPlex as a professional, but her experience as a member of the Spirit Reserves and D.C. United Women helped her get to where she is today.

“It’s a great opportunity to be playing back at home,” Haracic said after the game. “This league has grown so much from D.C. United Women to being on the Reserves to now being here. It was a great opportunity with a great crowd and a good atmosphere. I enjoyed it.”

Washington returns to action next Saturday, August 19 as they travel to Cary, NC to take on the North Carolina Courage. The game will be broadcasted on Lifetime as part of the Game of the Week series. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with kickoff to follow at 3:50 p.m. The Spirit return to the Plex on August 26 to take on the Chicago Red Stars.

DiDi HaracicPlayer Previews

As the 2017 NWSL season approaches, we will be rolling out profiles on the 2017 Washington Spirit roster.

Name: DiDi Haracic

Hometown: Round Hill, Virginia

Position: Goalkeeper

College: Loyola University Maryland

DiDi Haracic during warmups on July 2, 2016.
Photo Credit: Kelley Piper (@kpiperphotos)

Last season: DiDi Haracic spent most of the 2016 season playing for the Spirit Reserves in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Haracic, as the starting goalkeeper, led the Spirit Reserves to a Colonial Conference Championship. Haracic’s name might be familiar to the Spirit family because she spent a good chunk of the season with the pro team as an amateur call-up while Stephanie Labbé was away with the Canadian National Team during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

2017 season: Haracic was signed to a professional contract in early February. She will most likely start the season as the backup to Labbé while Kelsey Wys recovers from an ACL injury. Haracic has had limited experience at the NWSL level but should be a capable backup to Labbé. Haracic is not likely to see the field unless Labbé is injured or away with the Canadian National Team.