Brenna Brown scored the Fusion’s first goal. (Clarus Multimedia Group)
BUFFALO, N.Y. – On the strength of second-half goals from Brenna Brown and Tori Sousa, the Connecticut Fusion advanced to the 2021 United Women’s Soccer East Conference playoff final with a 2-0 victory over Syracuse DA on Friday evening at Coyer Field on the campus of Buffalo State College.
The third-seeded Fusion, which also recorded the organization’s first postseason win in its third attempt, will advance to Tournament Final on Sunday at 2 p.m. to face top-seed and tournament host FC Buffalo Women, who defeated the four-seed Lancaster Inferno 3-2 in the second semifinal. The winner of Sunday’s final will travel to Round Rock, Texas next week to compete in the UWS National Championship Tournament.
The Fusion generated a scoring chance within 90 seconds of the opening kickoff as Cara Jordan was given some space at the top of the box but whistled her shot wide of Syracuse goalie Katie Cappelletti’s right post.
Syracuse were able to cause some problems to the Fusion’s back line with pressure high up the field for the next 20 minutes but never created a clear cut scoring chance for themselves.
In the 33rd minute, Brenna Brown latched onto a loose clearance in the attacking third, cut the ball onto her right foot and hit a curling effort that beat Cappelletti cleanly but crashed off the crossbar and bounced wide of target. Then five minutes before halftime, Chloe Landers connected on the end of Tori Sousa’s cross from 10 yards out but her strike wasn’t a clean one as it dribbled in right on goal.
The score remained 0-0 through not only halftime but through the hour mark. But with the second-seeded Syracuse side not pressing the issue in the early stages of the second half, the Fusion were finally able to break through.
Trapped by the sideline in the midfield third, Chanel Johnson executed a one-two with Sousa in the 64th minute and was able to drive down the left channel, eventually finding herself at the endline before sending a ball across to a wide open Brown, who tucked home the cross to give the Fusion a one-goal lead.
Connecticut kept generating chances for the next 15 minutes and from a corner kick, Tori Sousa was pushed from behind inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot, giving the Fusion a glorious chance to double their lead. And that is what they did as Sousa wrong-footed Cappelletti and slotted her penalty to the goalie’s left.
Allie Augur didn’t have much to do over the first hour of the match but came up with three top drawer saves to preserve the Fusion’s lead, including denying Syracuse midfielder Brooke Barbuto’s left footed effort in the 83rd minute as well as tipping a point-blank chance in second half stoppage time onto the bar.