Fusion celebrate a goal scored against Connecticut Rush on June 18.  (Clarus Multimedia Group)

FARMINGTON, Conn. – For the third time in organization history, the Connecticut Fusion is postseason bound.

In the Regional and National playoff structure announcement that came from the United Women’s Soccer league office, the Fusion will begin its road to a league championship by taking part in the four-team, single-elimination East Conference Playoff Tournament hosted by tournament top-seed FC Buffalo Women this weekend.

All matches for this weekend’s East Conference Playoff Tournament will be hosted at Coyer Field on the campus of Buffalo State College.

Connecticut (5-2-3, 18 points) will enter that tournament as the third seed and will face No. 2 Syracuse DA (6-2-2, 2) on Friday at 5 p.m. The winner of that match will face the winner of the second semifinal between No. 4 Lancaster Inferno (4-2-4, 16 points) and No. 1 FC Buffalo Women (7-2-1, 22) in the Final on Sunday at 2pm.

The winner of the East Conference tournament will participate in the UWS National Championship Tournament, to be held at Elite Field at Round Rock Multipurpose Complex in Round Rock, Texas over the weekend of July 23-25.

This is the third time in as many seasons that the Fusion has reached the postseason. In the organization’s inaugural campaign in 2018, Connecticut rattled off three consecutive wins to close out the regular season and secured a berth in the East Conference final – the conference had a one-game final to determine the divisions’ representative at the nationals that season = but fell to eventual national finalist Lancaster Inferno. 2-0.

The following season, with the expansion of the conference tournament from two to four teams, the Fusion qualified as the second seed and hosted Lancaster in the semifinals but again fell to the Inferno, 2-1.

This season the Fusion entered the postseason in good form as the club recorded back-to-back road wins last week, knocking off local rivals Connecticut Rush 4-1 on Wednesday, July 7 before finishing the regular season with a flourish with a 9-0 win over the Worcester Smiles three days later. The squad will face an equally in-form Syracuse team as after a slow start, it has won their last four matches, including an impressive 1-0 win over top-seeded Buffalo Tuesday.

The two teams met once during the regular season back Friday, June 11, playing to a 1-1 draw in Syracuse. Olivia McKnight’s first-half goal for the hosts was cancelled out by an 80th minute 30-yard lob from the Fusion’s Tiffany Weimer. The other previous encounter came in the 2019 regular season when the Fusion edged Syracuse, 2-1, at the Farmington Sports Arena via a 79th-minute game-winner from Chanel Johnson.

For more information on this weekend’s East Conference Playoff Tournament and how to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.fcbuffalo.org/uws-east-conference-playoffs-in-buffalo/. And for more information on the UWS National Tournament, visit https://uwssoccer.com/2021-uws-national-championship-and-playoffs/.