By Justin Haggerty
On Saturday, with Coach David Wood away in Chicago and Assistant Coach Mike Lee taking the reigns, the Risers returned to their winning ways at Reeths-Puffer High School with an impressive 4-0 victory over the (Pontiac) Michigan Stars of the National Premier Soccer League.
And the first goal came from team owner Matt Schmitt, a former R-P and University of Michigan standout who suited up for the first time last week.
In just the third minute, found the ball at his feet at the center of the box and n blasted it past Stars goalkeeper Kyle Taalman to make it 1-0.
“It was huge for us to bounce back and get an early goal,” Lee said after Muskegon improved to 5-0-1 at home. “Last week, if we had gotten an early goal, we probably would have had the same results as we had today.”
The Risers outshot Michigan in the first half, but only led by the same 1-0 score at the break.
But in the second half, Jeff McClure and Brogan Shrimpton, who have been leading the team offensively all season long, put on a show for the local fans.
As the clock struck the 55th minute, Shrimpton took a centering pass and headed it past Taalman to increase the lead to 2-0.
“We created a lot of good chances, going in (to the second half) at 1-0 is always a bit iffy,” said Lee about his halftime adjustments. “I was nervous but I said to them they’re playing really well, just keep it going. Just put a second one in and more will flow and that’s exactly what happened.
“They started to crumble after we got the second goal. We were a lot more relaxed and that made it a lot easier for us.”
It didn’t take long for Muskegon to increase the lead.
In the 65th minute, McClure and Shrimpton combined on a nice give-and-go play that saw Shrimpton center from the right wing to a waiting McClure, leaving Taalman with no chance to stop his shot.
“Brogan did a good job getting down the side and got open,” McClure said. “I just tried to run as hard as I could to get into the box to make a play on the ball. I give a lot of credit to Brogan.”
The two of them connected again just three minutes later with McClure scoring his fourth goal in the last three games to make the score 4-0.
In the 72nd minute, McClure made a bid for a natural hat trick, deking through the entire Michigan defense and beating Taalman, but was stymied by the goal post.
“It’s just unlucky, that’s all I can say about that,” McClure said of just missing his third goal of the game.
“Another great crowd, beautiful day. Our game plan was executed perfectly, the boys worked hard. I think we’re just about there,” Lee said.