By Justin Haggerty
MUSKEGON – Maybe it was the big crowed pumping them up for their home opener.
Whatever the reason, the Muskegon Risers were pretty impressive in their inaugural home game on Saturday evening, downing the Dayton Dutch Lions 3-1 at Reeths-Puffer High School.
The Risers got two goals from Brogan Shrimpton and one from Jeff McClure to seal the first victory in franchise history. Goalkeeper Reece Richardson made six big saves to allow the Risers to take control.
Risers head coach David Wood was impressed by the packed bleachers and spirited atmosphere at the field.
“It was fantastic, obviously, we appreciate all the effort that the fans put into it,” said Wood, whose team lost its first game last week. “It’s always a help, it always drives us on the field so hopefully they can continue supporting us through the season and we can keep showing up for them as we go.”
Even though the Risers were only playing their second game in history, the players are becoming more familiar with each other and building chemistry, according to Shrimpton, who scored the first and third goals for the team.
“I think compared to last week (a 3-1 loss at Detroit City FC), we’ve gelled a lot,” Shrimpton said. “Those extra four days (of practice) have made a big difference, we’re looking forward to the games ahead.”
Shrimpton netted the lone goal of the first half in the 18th minute, scoring from the right wing over the head of the Dayton goalkeeper.
“I got a through ball (off a turnover),” he said. “I shouldn’t be missing those so I was quite happy I scored it.”
Dayton tied the score 1-1 three minutes into the second half on a left wing corner kick that bounced off a Muskegon player and was last touched by Lions forward Ben Pulford.
The game remained tied until the 16th minute when Muskegon’s Titus Koso sent an outlet pass to McClure, who broke out from midfield all alone and scored a breakaway goal to give the Risers a 2-1 lead.
Muskegon would strike again in the final minutes of the game, when Shrimpton scored on a centering pass from deep inside the Dayton box.
“I put a little pressure on the defender and got the ball, stepped inside of the keeper and finished,” Shrimpton said.
Muskegon outshot Dayton 15-7.
“All three of the goals against us were personal mistakes and that’s tough,” said Dayton Coach Patrick Bal.
The Risers will play again next Saturday at Reeths-Puffer against FC Adrenaline.