BOULDER – In a hard-fought, aggressive game, the University of Colorado soccer team took down the Southern California Women of Troy 2-1 in this season’s penultimate game at Prentup Field.

In a game that saw 34 total fouls and five yellow cards, the Buffaloes came out the victor behind goals by two freshmen. Brie Hooks proved that sitting out for four games due to an injury wouldn’t slow her down. In the 66th minute, she netted her eighth goal of the season to give the Buffs a 1-0 lead. Hooks was at it again in the 72nd, assisting classmate Alyssa Herwatt to her first goal as a Buff.

“It was definitely tough not being able to play for a while, and just watching the games was kind of hard,” Hooks said. “But, then coming back in I was a little bit nervous just because it’s a knee injury and those are a little bit sketchy. Definitely as the game went on I started to get my confidence back, especially with that goal, it really helps to get my feet back on the field, so it was a good way to come back.”

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, the Trojans found the back of the net, with Marlee Carrillo heading on in off her goalkeeper Caroline Stanley’s free kick, but it wouldn’t be enough to push the game to extra minutes.

“I think the first half was sluggish,” said CU head coach Danny Sanchez, who earned his 20th win with the Buffs on Friday. “I don’t think we were sharp in the attack, but we defended fine. I thought in the second half as the game started to get stretched, we created more opportunities. We’re happy with the win. USC – don’t be fooled by their record – is a very good team, but we know we have big challenges coming our way. We need to be sharper and play better.”

The win marks the first time the Buffs have gotten two wins over a single Pac-12 Conference opponent (the Buffs beat the Trojans 1-0 in double overtime in Los Angeles last season). The victory improved the Buffs’ record to 12-3-1 overall, 4-2-1 Pac-12. The Buffs have recorded 12 wins for the first time since 2008 and four conference victories for the first time since 2010 (when CU was a member of the Big 12). Goalkeeper Annie Brunner has now recorded 31 victories in the net for the Buffs, making her the second-most winningest keeper in program history.

USC falls to 6-8-2 overall, 1-5-1 Pac-12. The Trojans are looking to return to their unbeaten streak ways that saw them tying then-No. 8 California and defeating then-No. 5 Stanford.

The game began with a defensive battle. In the ninth minute, Katie Johnson, who tied for a team-high two shots and one on goal, got the Trojan offense going. She rushed the net and sent her shot at Brunner, who picked up her first and only save of the game.

Anne Stuller led the Buffs with six shots and four on goal. She dominated the offense in the opening 21 minutes. In the 12th minute, she edged up the left side and took a quick shot that hit the post. Two minutes later, she was in a similar spot, with Olivia Pappalardo close behind, sliding one at USC’s Stanley. The Buffs remained tight on offense, but a strong Trojan pressure made it hard for the Buffs to get a good look at the net.

In the 21st minute, the Buffs had their best opportunity of the half. Stuller once again approached the net from the left, causing Stanley to dive for another save. While the keeper was still down, Pappalardo swooped in but was unable to get her shot past Stanley. Despite some contact in the box, the Buffs were forced to get back on defense.

USC was finally able to respond in the 27th minute with Johnson hitting the ball wide this time. Multiple fouls on the Trojans helped the Buffs make the Trojans play from behind, despite the game remaining scoreless. Following two more shots by the Buffs, the Trojans were able to get their best look in the closing minutes of the half, with Tanya Smarzich beating Hayley Hughes in the backfield, but hitting the right post to close out the second half.   

The game only got more physical in the second half. In the first minutes, USC made the Buffs’ defense work for stops. The Women of Troy got a corner kick in the 47th minute, and capitalized with back-to-back shots, though the first was blocked and the second went wide.

In the same span that the Buffs took two shots, the first a Pappalardo header that forced a save and the second a Stuller free kick that blasted just high, the Trojans got called for five fouls and received their first of four yellow cards. Despite their foul trouble, USC was able to answer with three consecutive corner kicks, though none would help them to a shot at the goal.

The Buffs were able to grab the upper-hand in the 66th minute. A free kick by Alex Huynh found Hooks near the net. From 10 yards out, she beat the keeper down low and shot to the far corner to give the Buffs the 1-0 lead.

“(Coach Sanchez) was definitely holding me off, and then I came in and he just wanted me to go in there with all the effort I had and help us get a good start to the second half,” Hooks said. “So, when I went in there all I was thinking about as the ball was coming over was just, ‘I need to finish this, and get the half going so we can hopefully get more goals after that.’”

USC was able to get a shot of its own in the 70th minute, with Carrillo hitting one wide, but the Trojans couldn’t control the ball for long. In the 72nd minute, the Buffs were hungry for more. Hooks connected with Herwatt, who from 25 yards out chipped the ball to the net. The ball bounced off the cross bar and fell in to give the Buffs’ a solid 2-0 lead.

“I was definitely scared I was offsides at first, that’s why I kind of hesitated, but I was just like, ‘why not take it,’” Herwatt said. “I’ve had a couple of opportunities throughout this season that haven’t gone in, so I was really excited this one finally got in. It felt great to have my first goal.”

With a goal and an assist in the game, Hooks continues to shine in the freshman offensive record books. She ranks third with eight goals and fourth with 18 points.

Following their goal, the Buffs were only able to get one more shot off, with Stuller hitting one at the keeper. USC managed just two shots in the final 20 minutes, but their last helped tighten the score. At 87:06, Carrillo netted her third of the season, heading the ball in off a free kick from her keeper.

“They’re a good team, (USC’s Marlee Carillo) had scored a couple goals late against Arizona as well,” Sanchez said. “So, it was a great ball and I don’t think there was anything cheap about it, we had numbers we just didn’t get it, but that’s why we had a two-goal lead. It made the last couple minutes a little antsy for us, but I was happy how we killed off the game after that.”

USC continued to press in the closing minutes, grabbing another yellow card. Though the Trojans continued to fight, the Buffs’ 2-1 lead was too much to overcome.

Next up for the Buffs is No. 2 UCLA. Stuller says playing in her final game at Prentup Field will be “surreal,” but she wants to leave the field on a good note.

“They’re a good team, definitely a favorite in the College Cup this year,” Stuller said. “But, I think the way we’ve been playing we can definitely hang with them and we’re going to try to get a win, we’re not going for anything less.”

Come out to Prentup to celebrate Senior Day on Sunday, Oct. 27 at noon with your CU soccer team. Make sure to stand in the Buff Brigade cheering section and cheer the Buffs to victory as they take on No. 2 UCLA in the last home game of the season!