MUSKEGON – In a high-scoring sport like arena soccer, a team just can’t afford to be shorthanded too often.

To their credit, the Muskegon Risers nearly pulled it off on Saturday night. They were called for a blue card in the second quarter, which gave the visiting Iowa Demon Hawks a power play, but the Risers killed that situation off with no damage.

The Risers were handed another blue card early in the third quarter, but actually made it work to their advantage by getting a shorthanded goal and taking a 7-5 lead into the fourth.

But Iowa rallied in the final quarter and tied the score, then the Risers were hit with their third blue card with only 3:31 left in ethe game, and that one ended up costing them.

Photo/Jeremy Clark,

The Demon Hawks’ Thiago Freitas scored a power play goal at the 11:57 mark to give his team the lead. The Risers then collected their fourth blue card of the game with 2:05 left, so they ended the game playing shorthanded and fell 8-7 in a heartbreaker at Muskegon’s Trinity Health Arena.

The Risers dropped to 1-8 on the season with three games remaining. They will play their final home game on March 3 against the Iowa Raptors, then will finish the season with a pair of games in Rochester, N.Y. on March 10-11.

“We talk about avoiding blue cards,” said Risers Coach Michael Vollmer. “They might not hurt you the first time or the second time, but sometimes it catches up to you. It was tough.”

The teams took turns getting the upper hand in each of the four quarters.

The Risers outscored Iowa 2-1 in the first quarter with a pair of goals from Brandon Dinsmore.

Photo/Jeremy Clark,

The Demon Hawks had a 3-0 advantage in the second quarter and led 4-2 at halftime.

The Risers exploded in the third quarter, collecting two goals from Cesar Alayo and single tallies from Taylor Pill, Miguel Flores and Aldony Mendez.

Pill opened the big quarter with a shorthanded goal, cutting Iowa’s lead to 4-3. Mendez ended the quarter with a goal from a crazy angle along the boards with just four seconds left on the clock, giving the Risers a 7-5 lead at the final break.

“That was probably our best quarter of the year,” Vollmer said. “The biggest thing for us was that we kept using our athleticism to get the ball back.”

The fourth quarter belonged to the Demon Hawks, who collected two goals within the first 7:25, then got the game winner on the power play goal by Freitas with 3:03 left.

Photo/Jeremy Clark,

Vollmer credited new Risers goalie Jake Lofgren, a Reeths-Puffer graduate who recently came home from college and joined the team. He played the entire contest and performed well, making a lot of key saves to keep the Risers in the game.

“He’s been in training with us for about the last week and a half, and I thought he played really well,” the coach said.

Vollmer said it was tough to lose again at home in front of another big, enthusiastic crowd that pulled for the home team all the way to the end.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about the players, it’s about the city of Muskegon,” the coach said. “They just keep coming and supporting us. We wanted this one for sure, especially after being up by two goals.”