MUSKEGON – A year ago, the Muskegon Risers were on an exciting path to the Major Arena Soccer League 2 playoffs, and ended up one victory away from a berth in the league championship game.
That’s not likely to happen this season following Saturday’s 10-7 loss to the Rochester Lancers at Trinity Health Arena.
The Risers came into the weekend hoping for a two-game sweep over Rochester, but instead dropped both games to the visitors from New York.
The losses left them with a four-game losing streak, a 1-6 record and very little chance of securing a playoff spot, with only five games remaining.
The loss was extra disappointing because it came in front of a large home crowd in downtown Muskegon.
“We want to win for these fans,” said Risers head coach Michael Vollmer. “It’s pretty sad that we came away with two losses at home, especially at a time when we needed two wins to get relevant.
“Rochester is a really good team. They know how to close out games and how to respond when we score a goal. That was the biggest problem tonight. We just kept trading goals, and you can’t do that when you fall behind.”
Offense was the problem for the Risers in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Lancers, and just the opposite was true on Saturday. Muskegon more than doubled its goal total from the night before, but a leaky defense allowed Rochester to grab an early lead and hold it for most of the game.
Penalties also hurt the Risers. One resulted in a penalty kick and Rochester goal, and another gave Rochester a two-minute power play very late in the game, when Muskegon was trying to rally.
The good news is that the Risers are a team with a lot of pride and love for their hometown fans. With three home games remaining, they plan to regroup and be ready to get some victories when they return to action on Jan. 28 at home against the Iowa Raptors.
“We have tons to play for,” Vollmer said. “We need to get back to the drawing board. We need to come back stronger and give these fans what they deserve.
“We will have three or four training sessions in a row, and we will test these guys and see what they are made of, physically and mentally.”
Rochester led 2-0 after one quarter after collecting goals from Alex Harling and Eduardo Figeroa.
The Risers came to life in the second quarter, collecting two goals from Taylor Pill and one from Kyle Crain within the first five minutes to take a 3-2 lead.
The Lancers took the lead right back, however, answering with three straight goals of their own, from Konrad Zydowicz, Matt Sawaged and Jacob Schindler.
The teams traded the final two goals of the second quarter, with Muskegon’s Elmedin Zukin and Rochester’s Vadim Cojocov scoring, and the Landers led 6-4 at halftime.
The teams each had two goals in the third quarter, with Miguel Flores and Aldony Mendez finding the mark for the Risers and Zydowicz and Schindler scoring for the Lancers.