CU Buffs soccer upsets No. 14 USC

Shyra James scores game-winner in double overtime for Colorado

Colorado's Shyra James scores the game-winning ...
Photo courtesy CU athletics
Colorado’s Shyra James scores the game-winning goal in double overtime against USC on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Boulder.

With an offense that has struggled to score and a two-goal deficit in the early going on Monday, the Colorado women’s soccer team appeared to be in trouble.

The Buffaloes stormed back, however, and upset No. 14 Southern California, 3-2 in double overtime at Kittredge Field.

Freshman Shyra James scored the game-winner in the 109th  minute and keeper Dani Hansen made a game-saving stop on a penalty kick in the first overtime as the Buffs gave Danny Sanchez his 100th win as CU head coach.

“To go down 2-0 to the 14th ranked team in the country, we could have hung our heads,” said Sanchez, whose team improved to 5-3-1 (2-2-1 Pac-12). “This is one of those games that probably could have gone either way. … I’m proud of the team.”

Originally scheduled for Sunday at the Buffs’ grass turf at Prentup Field, the game was moved to Monday at Kittredge, the artificial surface used by the Buffs lacrosse team, because of a storm that brought two feet of snow to Boulder.

“I want to give a shout out to all of our game day (operations) people,” Sanchez said. “They were here at midnight on Sunday morning, plowing this field and giving us an opportunity to play. This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them.”

USC (3-3, 2-3) started fast with goals by Tara McKeown and Penelope Hocking in the first 13 minutes.

CU, which had scored just nine goals on the season, however, needed less than nine minutes to respond, as Libby Geraghty got past the defense, put a shot on net that was stopped and then punched in the rebound to make it 2-1.

“That was a key moment, but if you really looked at it, we had a couple of good chances before that,” Sanchez said. “Libby gets that goal, gets us back into it, but then we had a couple chances to equalize it before half, so we felt pretty good going into the second half.”

A penalty kick goal by Shanade Hopcroft in the 56th minute tied the game and the Buffs were able to hang on to get to overtime.

In the first 10-minute overtime period, USC was awarded a penalty kick, but Hansen read the play correctly and stuffed the shot by the Trojans’ Savannah DeMelo.

Then, with time running out in the second overtime, James got the ball in front of the USC net, turned and fired a shot to the left corner for the win.

“It was a great turn,” Sanchez said. “As a striker you kind of anticipate, but really, at the end of the day, you’re just trying to smack it from there. We needed something like that to beat (USC keeper Kaylie Collins) and Shyra fortunately did it for us in that second overtime.”

Photo courtesy CU athletics
Members of the Colorado Buffaloes soccer team celebrate their double overtime win against USC on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Boulder. (Photo courtesy CU athletics)

The win snapped a two-game losing streak and gave the Buffs a much-needed Pac-12 victory. It also secured a milestone for Sanchez, who is now 100-59-21 in nine seasons with the Buffs.

“I think it’s a reflection of the program,” he said. “I think it’s a reflection on where the program’s going. I’m really pleased with the support we get top to bottom. … I think people see the potential of our program as we continue to build off of it, so I think winning some games is just a byproduct of all that.”


CU snapped a five-game losing streak to USC. The Buffs had been outscored 11-1 during that streak. … The Buffs improved to 4-8 all-time against the Trojans. They had scored a total of five goals in the previous 11 meetings. … Geraghty’s goal was her first of the year and sixth of her career. … Lawson Willis had two assists and leads the team with six this season. …The game was just the second for CU on Kittredge Field; the first was a 1-0 win against Weber State on Feb. 20.

Colorado 3, USC 2 (2 OT)

USC                                        2          0          0          0          –           2

Colorado                                 1          1          0          1          –           3

Goals (assists) – USC, Tara McKeown (Madeline Vergura), 10:45; USC, Penelope Hocking (Vergura, Savannah DeMelo), 13:03; CU, Libby Geraghty (Lawson Willis), 20:24; CU, Shanade Hopcroft (penalty kick), 55:43; CU, Shyra James (Willis), 108:02.

Goalkeepers (minutes-goals-saves) – USC: Kaylie Collins (109-3-5). CU: Dani Hansen (109-2-4).