By Justin Haggerty
Muskegon hosted the Milwaukee Brewers Football Club at Reeths-Puffer High School in a battle for the newly-created Lake Michigan Cup, which will go to the annual winner of the game.
As it turned out, the Risers will be the first keepers of the Cup, following their 3-1 victory over the Brewers on a steamy evening for soccer.
The Risers never trailed in the game and outshot their visitors 11-5.
“That’s a big result for us,” Risers head coach David Wood said after watching his team improve to 8-0-1 at home this season and 8-3-1 overall. “They (Milwaukee) have had a very good season. They played in their championship final last week.”
“For us to be able to beat them, that was a massive result for us.”
It didn’t take long for Muskegon to get on the board.
In just the eighth minute, 2012 Reeths-Puffer graduate Eric Hilt got the ball in the middle of the offensive zone and lasered a long shot to the left of goalkeeper Nick Van Pay for his first goal of the season.
“That was a great strike,” Wood said. “It’s great for him, he’s one of our local boys so it’s nice for him to score.”
The lead didn’t last long. In the 21st minute, Muskegon keeper Reece Richardson was called for a foul in the box, giving Brewer forward Jake Streicher a penalty kick. Streicher tied the game at one goal apiece by beating Richardson on his left side.
Just four minutes later, Muskegon striker Brogan Shrimpton broke free of the Milwaukee defense, only to see his shot hit the right post.
The score was tied 1-1 at halftime.
Shrimpton, determined to make good on the missed opportunity, scored in the fourth minute of the second half on a rebound, after Van Pay made a terrific save on Muskegon’s Robby Gunderson.
“I got off the side and crossed it in,” Shrimpton said. “Robby got the ball, took the shot, the keeper deflected it and the ball came out. I just followed up as every striker should.”
Muskegon’s Jeff McClure finished the scoring in the 92nd minute, beating Van Pay to a long lead pass from Matt Schmitt and tapping it into the open net to give the Risers a 3-1 win.
Next Friday the Risers will visit the Grand Rapids Football Club before hosting GRFC Saturday.
“I think it’s great to have rivalries so close,” Wood said, referring to both Grand Rapids and Milwaukee. “It’s a big game for us to look forward to. It’s close by, a lot of personal relationships that people have.
“It’s good for the clubs, good for the community to try and battle it out as well.”
Muskegon’s Bandile Mathendela served a one game team suspension Saturday for his aggressive play last week against Oakland United.
Risers captain Jamie Waters returned Saturday after fracturing his ribs during a game two weeks ago against Detroit.
“It’s massive having Jamie back in the middle,” Wood said. “His communication, his leadership, the way he commands the game. He went back home, rested, did a lot of rehab and came back Friday night.”