Tori Sousa finishsed with a league and assist for the Fusion. (Photo courtesy of Clarus Multimedia Group)
GUILFORD, Conn. – With its backs against the wall and trailing by a goal after 13 minutes, the Connecticut Fusion rallied to score four unanswered goals to defeat its Nutmeg State rivals, the Connecticut Rush, 4-1, at Bittner Park Wednesday night.
The Fusion (4-2-3, 15 points) snapped its four-match winless streak and vaulted the team back into the United Women’s Soccer East Conference playoff picture. The squad sits in a three-way tie for third place with the Rush and NJ Copa FC. The Rush (5-3-0, 15) still find itself in good position to make the four-team conference playoffs but Wednesday’s loss took the team’s destiny of clinching the conferences’ top seed out of its hands.
The host Rush was on the front foot from the opening whistle as not more than 30 seconds into the match, it capitalized on a failed clearance from the Fusion’s backline and crashed a shot off the crossbar. But in the 13th minute, the Rush jumped on a second mishap from the Fusion backline and made no mistake as Andrea Basilicato took an errant pass and put her shot past Fusion goalkeeper Allie Augur.
That marked the fifth consecutive match that the Fusion found themselves conceding the first goal. In the previous four matches, the Fusion had clawed back only two points from losing positions. But on this night, that trend would be reversed as the visitors struck for three straight goals to close out the first half.
The equalizer came in the 22nd minute as from a Kelly Quigley free kick, Chanel Johnson rose the tallest and bulleted a header to the far post. Despite Rush keeper Jenna Hall getting her hands to the shot, she wasn’t able to guide it wide of the post, leveling the score at 1-1.
Hitting on the counter attack was a key the the Fusion’s success on Wednesday night and that was how the visitors got their second goal from a Rush corner. Augur collected the set piece and quickly distributed, giving Tori Sousa a chance to run at the hosts backline before finding Kacey Lawrence off to her left. The University of Michigan product put the ball onto her left foot and ripped her effort into the top left corner, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead with five minutes left in the first half.
The big moment of the night came right on the stroke of halftime as the Republic of Ireland international Roma McLaughlin got loose on the left flank and drove to the endline before slotting a ball across the box to the onrushing Sousa, who tapped it in to give the Fusion a 3-1 lead heading into the interval.
In the second half, the visitors kept the Rush at bay, with the hosts only being able to generate a couple of chances from distance, all of which were handled by Augur, who finished with five saves.
In the waning moments, Fusion midfielder Cara Jordan bagged the visitor’s fourth goal as her effort from the top of the box found its way into the back of the net. That secured the team’s first win since a 5-0 victory over the Rochester Lancers June 5.
The Fusion wrap up the regular season on Saturday at 7 p.m. as it travels up to face the Worcester Smiles at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium in Worcester, Mass.