MUSKEGON – There’s a reason that fans keep coming out to watch Muskegon Risers indoor games, despite the team’s poor record this season.
It’s because the Risers, despite everything that’s gone wrong this season, always fight hard and put on a show for their hometown crowd.
The Risers did it again on Saturday night, falling behind by two goals early in the game, battling back and tying the score twice, and even taking the lead for a few minutes in the second half.
But in the end the effort wasn’t quite enough and the Risers fell to the visiting Iowa Raptors 9-8 in front of another big crowd at Muskegon’s Trinity Health Arena.
The loss dropped the Risers’ record to 1-7 on the season with four games left to play, including the next two at home. It all but squelched their chances of qualifying for the Major Arena Soccer League 2 playoffs.
The loss also added to the Risers’ general level of frustration. They have now lost three times to the Raptors this season by a grand total of four goals, and any of those games could have gone the other way.
Despite their frustration, there is no quit in the Muskegon squad, according to head coach Michael Vollmer. The Risers will be back and ready to go a week from this coming Friday – Feb. 10 – for a home game against the powerful Iowa Demon Hawks.
“We obviously want to win for these fans,” Vollmer said. “We want to give them more. We just couldn’t do that tonight.
“It’s a credit to these guys that they have a never-say-die attitude. They want nothing more than to win, especially in our home arena. That’s something to be proud of.”
The night started out badly for the Risers. Iowa scored three of the four goals in the first period and headed to the second with a 3-1 lead.
Taylor Pill scored the Risers’ only goal of the first period, his eighth of the season.
Muskegon returned the favor in the second period, outscoring the visitors 3-1 to leave the contest tied 4-4 at halftime.
Brandon Edwards, Miguel Flores and newcomer Fikret Hasovic scored in the second period for the Risers. Flores’ goal came on a power play.
The Risers had a dangerous situation right after Hasovic’s goal when a player received a yellow card, giving Iowa a power play for five long minutes. But Muskegon was up to the task, killing off the long shorthanded situation with no damage and preserving the halftime tie.
Iowa had a 3-2 goal advantage in a wild third period and led 7-6 headed into the fourth. Flores scored his second goal of the game for Muskegon in the third while Colin O’Keefe also found the net.
The final period was a white-knuckle affair as the teams traded goals.
Aldony Mendez scored for the Risers at the 4:32 mark, tying the game at 7-7. Iowa pulled ahead again with a goal just 16 seconds later, then Hasovic scored his second goal of the game at 5:52, tying the game at 8-8.
Iowa scored the game winner at 7:11 of the fourth period. The Risers had a two-minute power play with about five minutes left in the contest, but could not get the equalizer.
“We obviously didn’t play our best game.” Vollmer said. “We always seemed to score a goal and then give one up. That’s a mentality thing. It’s very disappointing.”
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