It is hard to find a more valuable player to the Washington Spirit than their Keeper-in-Chief Aubrey Bledsoe. The 2019 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year has been known to make a highlight-reel worthy save once or twice, and will be looking to do the same during the Challenge Cup.
The Cincinnati-bred and Wake Forest grad began her career in net for IK Grand Bodø in Norway, making the move to the NWSL’s Sky Blue FC in the 2015 season. After a stint in Denmark for Fortuna Hjørring, Bledsoe was selected by Orlando Pride in the 2016 extension draft, where she remained mainly a back-up keeper until her move to the Spirit before the 2018 season.
Bledsoe has remained the anchor in the team and for their impressive defensive line last season, starting all 24 matches. In addition to racking up Goalkeeper of the Year, Bledsoe also received Team of the Month honors in May, June, and August. She also was awarded Player of the Week in week four in recognition of her nine-save performance against the Reign, as well as in week seven for garnering a clean sheet in the Spirit’s win against Chicago Red Stars. Only allowing 25 goals, Bledsoe led the league in saves (86), catches (25), recoveries (290), and her nine clean sheets were tied for second. Bledsoe also holds the NWSL record for most saves in a season, with 108 saves in 2018.
Known for her shot-stopping ability, Bledsoe holds strength in her quick reflexes, allowing her to have the ability to make the spectacular, close range save. Bledsoe is also not the preferred keeper that penalty kick takers want to encounter as she's saved PK shots against Megan Rapinoe and Lindsey Horan, two of the USWNT most prolific players. Bledsoe also shows off impressive range, being able to extend to the top corners to swat away shots.
Bledsoe’s talents have also been equipped in the Australian W-League, helping Sydney FC reach the Grand Final in the 2018-2019 season, where she also won Goalkeeper of the Year.
Overall, Bledsoe is a heart of the Spirit. Not one to crack under pressure, Bledsoe is a crucial leader for the team who brings a wealth of experience, which will be especially important considering the youthfulness of the Spirit’s roster this season. Considering all of her past success, Bledsoe is poised to potentially earn a call-up to the USWNT if she can continue to make a similar impact this year. Bledsoe is surely one of the most underrated players in the NWSL and is one to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.
By Anna Goorevich