The CT Fusion defeated Midwest United FC, 2-1. (UWS Photo)
ROUND ROCK, Texas – For the first time asin playing in a national tournament, the Connecticut Fusion showed the poise and experience in Friday’s United Women’s Soccer semifinal that you would expect from a team who has played for multiple titles.
On the strength of second half goals from Tori Sousa and Chloe Landers, the Fusion secured their spot in Sunday’s final with a 2-1 victory over Midwest United FC at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.
The next time that the East Conference Champs will take to the field will be on Sunday morning when they take on West Conference champion Santa Clarita Blue Heat, with kickoff set for 11 a.m. local time (noon ET). The Blue Heat defeated the San Antonio Athenians, 4-0.
A cagey opening 45 minutes, combined with extremely gusty winds didn’t allow either team to create many clearc-ut scoring chances. The best of the bunch was in the 27th minute when Sousa beat the offside trap and latched onto Chanel Johnson’s through ball/ Souza, however, was denied by a kick save from goalkeeper Isabella Okoraofo.
Midwest United, which led the league in scoring during the regular season (42 goals), came out firing in the second half, generating a handful of corner kicks and chances over the first 15 minutes. In the 58th minute, Jen Blitchok hit a ball from the top of the box that was destined for the top corner but was denied by Allie Augur’s fingertip save.
That stop was a turning point for the Fusion. Four minutes later, Connecticvut opened the scoring. Kylee McIntosh got forward from her center back position and looped a ball from the left flank to the top of the box. Sousa controled the cross and laced her shot past Okoraofo to give the Fusion the lead. It almost became 2-0 less than a minute after when Chanel Johnson broke through and was alone with Okoraofo, but put her shot wide of the mark.
Chloe Landers made it 2-0 in the 67th minute when Sousa drove down the left flank and drove in a low cross, finding Landers who tapped it in to double the Fusion’s lead.
Connecticut did well over the next 20 minutes seeing the match out, allowing Midwest United only a handful of shots from distance. In the sixth minute of stoppage time, Midwest United pulled a goal back as Avery Lockwood broke free inside the area and beat Augur to a loose ball and poked it into the back of the net.
It was too little, too late for the Midwest Conference Champions as no quicker had the ball been put back into play when the referee blew the whistle to end the match.
For more information on the UWS National Championship Tournament and how to watch the final, visit https://uwssoccer.com/.