COLLEGE PARK — Rarely does a player selected captain for one Division I team decide to transfer to another school. It is also unusual for Maryland men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski to take in transfers.
Mael Corboz is the exception to both.
The junior midfielder, who leads the Terps with seven goals, transferred last spring after spending his first two seasons at Rutgers. On Wednesday, Corboz will return there as an opponent when No. 17 Maryland (10-5-2, 4-2-1 Big Ten) takes on the Scarlet Knights (5-10-1,1-5-1) in what is a crucial game for the red-hot Terps.
A victory will give the Terps, winners of seven straight, the Big Ten regular season title in their first year in the conference.
Corboz, who grew up about 20 minutes from the Rutgers campus, said Tuesday that he hasn't thought much about playing his former team.
"I don't want to think about it like that. I'd rather just take it as a game we have to win ... and this is probably the biggest one because we can win the Big Ten title," Corboz (whose full name is pronounced MY-el COR-boze) said before boarding the team bus. "I'd rather just keep it professional in a sense."
Corboz said the strength of Maryland's program — and his hopes of playing professionally — factored into his decision to leave Rutgers. Corboz had watched Maryland midfielder Dan Metzger, a former club teammate in New Jersey from ages 10 through 13, play for a national championship last season.
"It was a huge decision for me. Everybody at Rutgers was great to me," Corboz said. "I was captain as a sophomore. It was obviously a very tough decision, but I had to think about it for a while. I had to talk with my parents for a while. But I thought it was the right time to move and try to take the next step in my development and maybe get a change of scenery."
Corboz had also considered Georgetown, where his two sisters, Daphne and Rachel, currently play on the women's soccer team, but the school doesn't offer mechanical engineering.
"It would have been nice, but there are more important factors than going to school with my sisters," he said.
Joked Cirovski, "Thankfully Georgetown doesn't have an engineering major."
Cirovski said Corboz has been a great addition to a team looking to replace its three leading scorers from last year's College Cup runner-up, including two-time Hermann Award winner Patrick Mullins.
"He's a very honest, hard-working, skillful player," Cirovski said. "He's extremely cerebral. He's a great student. I don't have too many engineering students. Mael is just a kid who does all the right things. He gets along with all his teammates, very coachable, very driven. He's fit in seamlessly."
Because Corboz transferred before Maryland and Rutgers were officially members of the Big Ten, Cirovski was able to get a waiver that allowed Corboz to play right away. Cirovski said Tuesday that he offered to sit Corboz for the Rutgers game, but Scarlets Knights coach Dan Donigan declined the gesture.
"The Rutgers coaches stood tall," said Cirovski, who has known Donigan for many years. "It was not an easy situation for the coaches or for Mael, but they granted him the release and everyone has moved on."
The move to Maryland has worked out well for Corboz, who has started all 17 games and leads the Terps in goals (7), game-winning goals (3) points (17) shots (40) and shots on goal (12). Corboz takes most of the free kicks, corner kicks and has made four of the five penalty kicks the Terps have converted.
"In terms of taking that risk, I knew if I wanted to play at the next level, I would have to challenge myself," Corboz said. "I think I've made the right decision."