Cara Jordan (above), Roma McLaughlin and Ellery Winkler each score twice to keep Fusion playoff hopes alive. (Photo courtesy of Connecticut Fusion)

WORCESTER, Mass. – In a week where the Connecticut Fusion needed six points from two matches to keep its United Women’s Soccer playoff hopes alive, the Nutmeg State squad delivered.

After defeating local rival Connecticut Rush, 4-1, Wednesday, the Fusion traveled up to the Bay State and put on a scoring clinic as it recorded a 9-0 win over Worcester Smiles at Foley Stadium Saturday evening.

The Fusion (5-2-3, 18 points) ended the game sitting in third place in the East Conference, which would be good enough to qualify for the four-team conference tournament next week. However, the team needs to wait and hope that results over the rest of the weekend and early next week go their way . Three teams, Scorpions SC, Connecticut Rush and the Long Island Rough Riders could jump ahead of the Fusion in the standings if all three teams win their remaining matches. Worcester (1-9-0, 3 points) end its campaign in 12th place in the 13-team division.

After a cagey opening 20 minutes, the Fusion broke through in the 23rd minute when Roma McLaughlin won the ball off of a Worcester midfielder. The ball caromed to Cara Jordan, who drove towards the top of the box before rifling a left footed effort past goalkeeper Kat Robbins. Jordan doubled the visitor’s lead in the 29th minute after playing a nifty give-and-go with McLaughlin at the top of the area before slotting one just inside the near post.

There were a handful of first-time scorers for the Fusion in this match, with the teams’ third and fourth goals coming from 2021 season goal scoring debutants. Marieke Kramer tapped home a rebound from a tight angle in the 34th minute and three minutes later, Tess Atkinson put her curling effort just inside the far post to make it 4-0. McLaughlin added a fifth goal three minutes before halftime as she smartly finished off Jordan’s well-timed through ball.

The visitors scored twice inside the first 15 minutes of the second half to put the game away. A mix-up in the Worcester back line in the 52nd minute allowed Kacey Lawrence to tap the ball into an open net and five minutes later, McLaughlin scored her second of the match as she converted a penalty kick after getting fouled in the box.

Second-half substitutes also found ways to make their impacts on the match as Ellery Winkler, who came on at the hour mark, bagged a second half brace. The first came in the 67th minute when second half sub Imani Jenkins unlocked Winkler with a perfectly weighted through ball before rounding the keeper and finishing into an open net. Winkler’s second goal, and the Fusion’s ninth and final of the evening, came in the 80th minute when another second half substitute, Chloe Landers, found her in a pocket of space before firing a shot past the keeper’s right.

Allie Augur started in net for the visitors and made two saves in one half of action before giving way to Amanda McQuillan for the second half, who made one stop in her 45 minutes.