SPOKANE, Wash. — On a sweltering Friday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, Rachel Corboz stands still with the sun at her back as she stares at a wall of Cameroonian defenders.
Corboz and France took on a high-scoring Cameroon side to a 1-1 draw in the Women’s Military World Cup championship game in Spokane, Washington on July 22.
Corboz lines up her free kick, as she has practiced dozens of times. The central midfielder rolls out her kicking motion and sends the ball high in the air. The 26-year-old shoots the ball with such power that the outstretched arms of Cameroonian auxiliary goalkeeper Christmilienne Onomo can’t stop him from finding the inside left corner of the net.
The score that came in the 80th minute of the league game turned out to be the game winner. “I was really confident,” Corboz said. “My mentality immediately changed to ‘I’m going to score this’.”
White jerseys surround Corboz at the east end of Union Stadium in Spokane. Her teammate in the French championship, Julie Pasquereau, puts her arm around Corboz’s head. Although there are 10 minutes of regulation time remaining, the French feel that the momentum has turned in their favour.
One of the greatest moments in Corboz’s football career came when she was playing under a different flag on the other side of the country where her French-born parents raised her.
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to play in a World Cup,” Corboz said. “So to be able to win it all is something really amazing – something I will never forget.”
Corboz, a French-American who grew up in New Jersey and played for Georgetown University, has now competed as a French Army reservist at these games which encourage camaraderie and friendship among militaries of the world through sport.
“I knew it was a possibility that I could play for the France team given that I have dual nationality. [in France and the U.S.]”, Corboz said. “But under these circumstances, it’s definitely something I never imagined.”
Corboz’s three goals in France’s last two games helped his team win the gold medal, although they failed to score in the first three games and for the first 360 minutes of the tournament. Corboz, however, notched four assists in France’s 8-0 win over the Netherlands. She had a few close calls, including a left-foot flare from 30 yards that hit the top crossbar against the Dutch.
But the balance of scoring reflects the brilliance and depth of the France team, which combines precision passing and cutting with fluid athleticism. The French outscored their opponents 19-2 and went unbeaten in the five-game tournament.
The French play as a collective, with each woman having a three-step lead and knowing where her teammates will be. Passes find their target more often.
With adept players like Corboz and Sarah Palacin, the attacking leaders of the France team, the team quickly established itself and the most qualified team in the 10-team field.
Corboz, who has played with two French professional teams, fits perfectly into this framework.
Corboz’s parents raised their three children in the New Jersey suburb of Green Brook Township, but ensured that their children never forgot their family’s origins. They spoke to them in French at home and during the holidays they returned to France to their grandparents. The Corboz children spent their summer months in their native country to experience French life with relatives.
“I’ve always had French culture in me,” Corboz said. “And every time I came back to France, I always felt that.”
Corboz still identifies in many ways as an American, but her style of play is more like her French teammates. Corboz grew up idolizing U.S. national team member Tobin Heath, another New Jersey native considered the most talented U.S. player in women’s soccer. Corboz modeled some of his game on Heath, but whose style more closely mimicked the style of European football: high on technical skills and passing.
Corboz said she watched the United States Armed Forces team’s 10-0 win over Belgium on July 11 and it reminded her of the style of American football she remembered in college.
“I think I will always have that American side to me, but also that French side,” Corboz said. “It’s funny, because every time I’m in the United States, I feel my French side coming out. Whereas when I’m in France, I feel more American.
Corboz’s future seemed etched on the football pitch. His father, Michel, played semi-professional football in France and his brother, Mael, who played for the University of Maryland as a midfielder, now plays in a professional league in Germany. She followed in the footsteps of her sister, Daphne, to briefly play with her at school in Washington DC. Daphne is now playing as a midfielder for Paris FC.
“I always looked up to them and always wanted to do what they were doing,” Rachel said.
AMERICAN WORK ETHIC
Corboz was invited to training camps for the United States National Soccer Team and made the U20 team in 2016. During Corboz’s junior year at Georgetown, she established herself as one of the top college players in the United States, earning first-team All-America honors, amassing 11 goals. and led the nation with 16 assists.
During his junior year, the Hoyas went 20-3-3 and earned their first NCAA College Cup appearance, falling to eventual national champion USC 1-0 in December 2016. As a senior, she again led Georgetown in total points, collecting 9 goals and 12 assists.
“As a player she was a wonderful technical player, possibly the most technical player we’ve ever had here,” Georgetown coach Dave Nolan said. “In terms of vision on the pitch and sense of the game, in any sport you always talk about the best players who have eyes in the back of their head. Rachel could see things two or three steps ahead of everyone else.
After his four years with the Hoyas Corboz had set his sights on the professional game in France. She didn’t even enter her name in the National Women’s Soccer League draft until the last minute. Seattle Reign FC expressed interest in her, but by then she had already decided to play overseas.
Corboz admittedly struggled in her first season playing overseas with French club Fleury 91, as she had to briefly adjust to a new position while learning the style of French football. Corboz noted some differences as American footballers will communicate more on the field, even shouting vocal encouragement where French players speak at a minimum, she said.
She said that in France, professional players hit fewer long balls, but instead keep the ball on the ground with precise passing and footwork.
Corboz moved to Stade De Reims, a club based in Reims, in the French Grand Est, northeast of Paris. As the club’s team captain, she scored four goals and five assists last season as Reims finished seventh in the 12-team Division 1, the highest tier of French women’s football.
“She’s really come of age and matured as a player,” said Nolan, who watched Corboz’s double-goal game against Cameroon online.
Corboz believes his hard work ethic comes from his American upbringing. It carried her on her rise to become one of the Big East’s top players. Corboz said she tried to encourage that work ethic during Military World Cup practices at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base.
French coach Marc Maufroy first approached Corboz about competing for the French military team in January, and she went on to attend four training camps.
Yet the French team in her stems from her ability to pay attention to detail and be ready when her number is called, such as in the game-winning match against South Korea on July 20, which landed the appearance of the French team in the gold medal game.
In the 90th minute of this contest, the French made magic.
Lina Thivillon passes to Anissa Belkasmi who returns the ball behind her to Thivillon. Thivillon then charged towards the South Korean net, drawing the defenders in, Thivillon then returned the ball to a wide-open Corboz, whose right-footed shot bounced off the left post and into the right corner of the net.
During the two-day trip to the United States, Corboz acted as her team’s spokesperson to translate questions and answers from teammates and coaches into French and English.
She also taught her teammates about American traditions and the differences in etiquette and culture.
“It was actually a bit difficult for some of them to come [to the U.S.]said Corboz. “A lot of them it’s their first time in the United States, so everything is a little different for them.”
Corboz said she would like to compete for the French military team again if she receives the call, but remains open to other professional opportunities, including a possible return to the United States. Nolan said he thinks Corboz could follow his sister to the French national team. Daphne joined the team in 2018 as an injury replacement.
|Date posted:||08.01.2022 06:56|
|Location:||SPOKANE, WA, USA|
|Hometown:||GREEN BROOK, NJ, USA|
This work, After Collegiate All-American Career, Corboz Leads France to Military World Cup Goldby Joe Lacdanidentified by DVDmust follow the restrictions listed at https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.