Sibling rivalries are competitive.
In the case of junior midfielder Rachel Corboz, the rivalry is with her older sister Daphne Corboz, and their competition comes at the highest levels of women’s soccer.
This season, Georgetown’s (20-3-3, 6-1-2 Big East) success has given Corboz a leg-up in the sibling rivalry.
“They have both told me they’re pretty jealous about how far I’ve gone, and that we’re in the Final Four,” Corboz said of her siblings, Daphne and Mael. “Neither of them have made it that far.”
Corboz — who ranked first in the nation in assists this year — has led the Hoyas to a dream of a season, in which the team lifted its first Big East Championship trophy and qualified for its first College Cup.
Her playmaking, pass-pinging style has melded beautifully with Georgetown’s multifaceted attack, and her passing and technical ability has unlocked previously steadfast defenses all season. Her 16 assists in a single season rank second in program history.
And when the Hoyas have needed it most, her long-range finishes, often from free kicks, have become the norm.
“My brother, Rachel and I have always worked on free kicks and corners, and Rachel used to always have this knack for scoring,” Daphne Corboz said. “We’ve seen it before. Mael and I are not surprised at all that Rachel has been putting away these free kicks and corners because she was always very good at it.”
The Hoyas traveled to San Jose this past weekend to take their place as one of the country’s best teams in the fight for a national title, and Daphne Corboz, who recently won the Football Association Women’s Super League trophy with Manchester City, knew she had to be there.
“I am extremely proud of what Rachel’s done and the program,” Daphne Corboz said. “When I left it was really unimaginable for us to reach the Final Four and this year they’ve done it. And they’ve beaten a lot of really good teams twice.”
Corboz has racked up individual honors this season, including a recent selection as a MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, one of 15 players still in contention for the sport’s highest individual award. She was also named an NSCAA First Team All-American.
But beyond any individual accolades, Corboz has grown impressively into her role as a leader on the team.
“When I played with Rachel as a freshman, she was your typical freshman. Having me there, I was very hard on her, and Dave will attest to that,” Daphne Corboz said about Head Coach Dave Nolan’s perspective on their relationship. “I think I knew how good she was and I knew she was one of our best players even as a freshman, and she needed to play that way.”
Now, having led the team to the most wins and goals scored in program history, Corboz, always the shyer of the two, has shown Nolan and the team her ability to lead.
After a disappointing 2015 campaign, Corboz helped keep the team motivated and driven through spring, summer and preseason trainings and workouts by coining the phrase #whywesweat, embodying a commitment to win the Big East Championship; a 2-0 victory over Marquette on a sunny November day at Shaw Field sealed the deal.
“Last year we didn’t have the season we were hoping to have,” Corboz said. “We lost in PKs in the semis of the Big East and then the first round of the NCAAs, so coming into this season we all wanted revenge and to prove we were better than what we did last year. And that has led us to some of this success we’ve had this year.”
Corboz provided one of the early moments of the season on the road against then-No. 12 Rutgers. Less than a minute into overtime, she found herself in space a few yards outside the box, and hammered a shot over the keeper to deliver Georgetown its first marquee win of the season.
In the next couple weeks, the team would go on to beat No. 3 Virginia and No. 1 West Virginia. The victory over UVA was punctuated by the Hoyas’ winning goal, a Corboz free kick from 30 yards out that sealed what was then the biggest win in program history.
Her 38 points on the season rank third in Georgetown single-season history, behind only Daphne Corboz in 2012 and 2014, with 44 and 42, respectively.
In the Corboz household, soccer has always been a family affair. Competitive matches of soccer and tennis at their New Jersey home often pit Mael and Daphne Corboz against Rachel and Michel Corboz, their father.
Mael Corboz, who played soccer for the University of Maryland, now plays in Europe with MSV Duisburg in the third division of the German Bundesliga.
Nolan realizes the influence the Corboz family has had on Georgetown women’s soccer, and joked about wanting more Corboz sisters that could one day play for the team.
“I wish her parents had more kids,” Nolan said. “I’m tempted to send a bucket of oysters to the Corboz household, but I think Mrs. Corboz wouldn’t be happy. My greatest regret is that they actually wasted time having a son. They should have had three daughters.”
In fact, in deciding between Georgetown and the more local Rutgers University, a major factor for Corboz was the desire to play with her sister. The two went to different high schools, so the opportunity was a rare one.
For Nolan, despite the differences between the two, which include Corboz’s greater proclivity for passing and Daphne’s affinity for being heard before seen, there remains one clear similarity between the two.
“They both really love the game,” Nolan said. “The happiest that they will be is when they’re on a soccer field.”