MUSKEGON – Arena soccer is generally a very high scoring sport, and three goals isn’t going to win many games.
But that’s all the Muskegon Risers could muster on Friday night in a disappointing 6-3 loss to the Rochester Lancers at Trinity health Arena.
The Risers expected to have a good chance to win, since they came in with five games under their belts this season while the Lancers were playing their very first game.
But that didn’t seem to matter too much to the Lancers, who got the big goals when they needed to all night.
The score was tied at halftime, then Rochester gained the advantage by outscoring the Risers 3-1 in the third quarter.
Muskegon, always a tough team to put away at home, pulled within one goal twice in the second half, but the Lancers answered with goals each time to preserve their lead and the victory.
Rochester got a big game from Joey Tavernese, who recorded a three-goal hat trick.
“Once we broke their (defensive) pressure, the decision-making wasn’t happening,” said Risers head coach Michael Vollmer about the lack of offense. “It all comes down to decision-making and believing what you are seeing.”
Many of the Risers did not make the trip to Iowa last weekend for two games, so many had not seen live game action for several weeks. Vollmer admitted that a bit of rustiness may have come into play on Friday.
“I can’t say for sure, but a lot of these guys haven’t played in two or three weeks and maybe that showed tonight,” he said.
The loss was a big one for the Risers, who fell to 1-5 on the season. They now have six games left in the regular season and will have to win most or all of them to have a shot at the Major Arena Soccer League 2 playoffs.
The quest for a turnaround begins on Saturday night in Muskegon when the Risers and Lancers will play a rematch, beginning at 7 p.m.
“We wanted to win both games, obviously, and now we will see how we recover,” Vollmer said. “We have some new guys coming in tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. We definitely have our backs against the wall.”
Friday’s game started very slowly, with no goals scored in the first period and only two in the second.
Muskegon’s Steve Merker drew first blood with a goal at 7:29 of the second period, Rochester’s Joey Tavernese answered less than a minute later, and the score was tied 1-1 at halftime.
Rochester took control of the game in the third period, outshooting the Risers 3-1. The Lancers collected two goals from Tavernese and one from Cojocov Vadim. Muskegon’s lone goal in the third quarter came from Miguel Flores, his fourth of the season.
The Risers’ Daniel Arrellano scored 1:32 into the final quarter to cut the Rochester lead to 4-3, then the Lancers answered with a goal from Dan Reger at the 11:18 mark and an empty-net goal by Matt D’Amico late in the game to close the scoring.