Buffs Knock off USC, Sanchez Reaches 100 Wins
BOULDER – The skies opened up, the sun was shining and thanks to a tireless effort from Colorado's groundskeepers and operations crew to even get the game played, it was freshman Shyra James that sent the Buffaloes rushing onto the field, upsetting No. 14 Southern California 3-2 in double overtime.
"I want to shout out to all of our gameday ops people, especially Ryan (Newman), Jose (Lopez-Tanori) and Jonathan," head coach Danny Sanchez noted. "They were here at midnight on Sunday morning plowing this field and allowing us to play. This wouldn't happen if it wasn't for them and everyone behind the scenes making sacrifices to make this happen. I'm really, really pleased with all of them."
Colorado (5-3-1, 2-2-1 Pac-12) played from behind almost from the start. USC took a two-goal advantage in the first 14 minutes of the match, but CU never stopped working.
Junior Libby Geraghty got CU's first goal midway through the first half and senior Shanade Hopcroft tied the game on a penalty kick in the early portion of the second. Monday was CU's first win after trailing 2-0 since beating Mississippi on Sept. 12, 2008, also 3-2 in overtime.
"To go down 2-0 to the No. 14 team in the country, we could have hung our heads," Sanchez added. "We were actually playing well. It didn't feel like a 2-0 game. Libby [Geraghty] getting that goal about halfway through the first half really gave us confidence going forward. This was one of those games that probably could have gone either way. Shanade [Hopcroft] getting the equalizer, Dani Hansen coming up big in overtime and then obviously a really good goal from Shyra [James] at the end to win it. I'm proud of the team. This is Pac-12 soccer. We'll get ready for Utah on Saturday."
The win marked No. 100 for Sanchez in his career at Colorado. Sanchez is the second coach in program history to reach the milestone, joining long-time coach Bill Hempen (114).
USC (3-3-0, 2-3-0 Pac-12) got early goals from Tara McKeown and Penelope Hocking. Kaylie Collins made five saves for the Trojans.
How it happened: The Buffs came out and controlled the early minutes of the day. Hopcroft tried to find Geraghty on the rush in the third minute, but the pass was just offside. James had back-to-back chances in the 7th minute, keeping the pressure on USC early.
The Trojans then struck on a corner kick in the 11th minute off a deflection from McKeown, taking the momentum right out from under Colorado. The Trojans found the net again on their very next shot in the 14th minute, with Hocking using her body to direct the ball across the goal line.
CU worked for the next goal, hoping to avoid any further damage. The Buffs got their break in the 21st minute. Freshman Lawson Willis played a ball forward to Geraghty who broke past the USC defense. Geraghty's first shot was saved by Collins, but she got the rebound and put it in the empty net to close within one of the Trojans.
"We had a couple of good chances before that [USC's first goal]," Sanchez explained. "The last time we played here at Kitt, we created one-half chance against Weber State the whole game, but we've been playing better. We had some confidence going forward and then really Libby got that goal and it got us back into it. We had a couple of chances to equalize it before the half. We felt pretty good going into the second half, but you can see how dangerous USC is."
Colorado trailed 2-1 at the half, despite leading in shots, 10-5. The Buffs kept Collins busy in the first half, forcing her to make four saves.
The Buffs got back to even in the 56th minute when James got dragged down in the penalty box. Hopcroft stepped to the penalty spot and beat Collins on the kick.
Dani Hansen got into the action in the second half, making two of her four saves in the period. CU didn't get another shot towards net until the 87th minute when Jenny Beyer launched an attempt just over the crossbar.
Hansen saved the day for the Buffs in the first overtime. She guessed right on the Trojan's penalty kick to keep the game alive in the 96th minute, denying UCS's Madeline Vergura. The stop was Hansen's second penalty save of the season.
USC got the first two shots in the second overtime. But it was CU who would get the late momentum. Kayleigh Webb had a shot on net in the 107th minute. The Buffs sent everyone home in the 109th minute when Willis found James at the top of the goal box. James bodied the ball and spun around with a deadly left foot to find the left corner of the net for the winner.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Up Next: The Buffs will head to Utah for a non-conference matchup against the Utes on Saturday (11:30 a.m. MT).
Quotable: "[SID] Seth [Pringle] brought that up a couple of weeks ago and it's almost like a jinx because we got some early wins. I think it's just a reflection of the program. I think it's a reflection of where the program's going. I'm really pleased with the support we get top-to-bottom. We are a priority in this department. Everybody's a priority, but I think people see the potential of our program if we continue to build off of it. I think winning some games is just a byproduct of all that. Dave [Morgan], Jason [Green], Craig [Alston], Gabbie [Pelloni] and just everybody up and down that works with women's soccer, it's a great moment for them because most of them have been with me since I got here in 2012."
Notes: James' goal at 108:02 was the third latest game-winning goal in CU history (since overtime rules changed in 1998)…James is second on the team with her three goals and seven points…Willis' two assists adds to her team lead (6)…Her six assists are the most by a freshman since Fran Munnelly (6) in 2002…It also matches last year's high in assists (Taylor Kornieck, 6)…Hansen now has 49 saves this season…CU improves to 2-0-0 at Kittredge Field…Coach Sanchez is now 100-59-21 in his ninth season at CU.