With a postseason place in hand for nearly a month and its focus turned to exhibitions against international opposition in recent weeks, the Ventura County Fusion may not be the sharpest it has been this season.
Which means it has one week, two training sessions and a four-hour drive north to shift into playoff mode for this weekend's Western Conference playoffs.
"The boys have been in a pretty relaxed mode because we qualified so early," said Fusion general manager Ranbir Shergill. "Now we're going to have to flip the switch and realize that the season is over if we lose."
The Fusion (10-0-6) face the Kitsap Pumas (12-1-3), the Northwest Division champion, in the conference semifinals Saturday morning at Chukchansi Park in Fresno.
Host Fresno Fuego (13-0-3) and Victoria Highlanders (9-4-3) follow at 12:30 p.m. The two winners meet Sunday at 12:30 p.m. for the Western Conference title and a place in the Premier Development League Final Four.
"I think that these guys are experienced enough and seasoned enough to realize what is at stake," said Fusion coach Ole Mikkelsen. "They realize that they're now in the playoffs... They understand that winning a championship really does set you apart
"The key is going to be getting them playing the way we were playing earlier in the year."