To say that Nebraska senior goalkeeper Aubrei Corder is one of the best to play the position in program history is an understatement.
The Barboursville, West Virginia native is in the middle of wrapping up another stellar campaign in her final season between the sticks for the Huskers — smashing several long-standing Husker records along the way.
On Sept. 8 against USC, Corder became just the fourth goalkeeper in school history to record 200 saves. Corder boosted her save total to 231 as of Oct. 9, and she needs nine more saves over the season’s final five matches to gain sole possession of second place.
In the same game, she set the Nebraska record for career goalkeeper minutes played — surpassing a 19-year-old mark set by former Husker goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc with 6,308 minutes. Corder passed another one of LeBlanc’s marks in the Huskers’ Sept. 20 contest against Purdue, making her 70th career start in goal to surpass LeBlanc’s total of 69.
Corder is also on pace to tie at least one more of LeBlanc’s longtime records at season’s end, as she can tie LeBlanc’s record of 80 games played in goal if she appears in Nebraska’s final five regular season games.
Add these accomplishments to her U.S. Under-19 Team Training Camp call-up in 2017, her Big Ten Preseason Honors List selections in 2017 and 2018 and the fact that she currently leads the NCAA in career minutes played by a goalkeeper with 7,114 total — what’s left is one impressive resume.
However, the most remarkable part of Corder’s story is that if someone would’ve told her six or seven years ago that she would’ve been a decorated college goalkeeper — she wouldn’t have believed you. Not because she didn’t want to play collegiate soccer, but because she didn’t even play the position.
Corder began playing goalkeeper when she was 15 years old after an injury to her club team’s starter midseason left an opening at the position.
“I told my coach that I’d help fill in because I’m big, good with my hands and could distribute the ball,” Corder said. “I was incredibly raw, but I helped our team finish fifth at nationals that year, which was an incredible experience.”
Corder impressed her club team with her goalkeeping efforts so much that when their starter returned, the team let Corder play half of the games in goal and the other half as a center forward, her natural position. She admitted the decision between playing forward or goalkeeper at the next level was difficult, but as soon as Nebraska offered her a spot on the team as a goalkeeper she decided to put on the gloves for good.
However, when she got to Lincoln in the summer of 2016 she ran into an immediate problem: competition. If Corder wanted to make an immediate impact at Nebraska, she needed to impress the coaching staff in the preseason.
“When I first came to Lincoln there were five of us competing for one spot,” Corder said. “The competition was intense, but the coaching staff told me that all I could do is go to practice, give my all and work hard and the starts would come.”
And sure enough the starts came for Corder early in her Nebraska career, as she was named the team’s starting goalkeeper as a true freshman prior to the beginning of the 2016 season. While she reaffirms that she “never gets nervous,” she did admit that it was a difficult adjustment to go from instructing club teammates to older players at Nebraska.
“It was really scary going from club soccer to playing on a team with girls six years older than me,” Corder said. “But my teammates were so supportive of me early on and helped me adjust.”
One of the ways her teammates helped her adjust was by helping her to familiarize herself with the program’s terminology so she could better instruct her squad on the field. Corder conceded it was a difficult process to learn the ins and outs of Nebraska’s system, but once she did, she became a coach on the field for the Huskers.
Additionally, Corder credits her teammates and coaches for helping her grow and develop during her first few years in Lincoln. She was only two years removed from playing goalkeeper for the first time, but now found herself starting for a competitive team in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
Not only did the 2016 Huskers remain competitive, but they made an NCAA Tournament appearance with Corder playing every minute of every game in goal. She made a name for herself in Lincoln. That season marked the beginning of Corder’s transition from timid freshman to the vocal leader she is today — and her teammates have recognized how far she’s come.
“Her technical ability has improved so much since her freshman year,” senior midfielder Meg Brandt said. “She’s developed into one of the best leaders on our team because of how strong her voice is both on and off of the field.”
More experience and familiarity with the position helped Corder develop into a talented goalkeeper, but a major factor in that development is the fact that she simply didn’t miss games. Corder has played 7,114 out of 7,160 possible minutes during her time at Nebraska, meaning that she’s missed out on just 46 minutes played over four years. Consistency at the goalkeeper position is fundamental to a team’s success, and Nebraska’s commitment to Corder played a huge role in not only her development, but the team’s as well.
“It’s so important that Aubrei is so consistent all the time,” Brandt said. “As a goalkeeper it’s really hard to play so consistently and be a good leader for so long.”
Several factors contributed to Corder’s rise from an inexperienced freshman to a senior that Brandt says can “hang with any goalkeeper in the Big Ten.” However, the biggest part of Corder’s development as a player is that she’s never satisfied with where she’s at. Despite all the accolades, records and honors, Corder is still driven to be the best version of herself.
“My goalkeeper coach Marty Everding always tells me that the day he stops giving me feedback is the day he thinks I can’t improve any more,” Corder said. “So, my goal for now is to keep improving day by day and be the best goalkeeper that I can be.”