By Adam Knorr
MUSKEGON – Less than a minute into Saturday’s Muskegon Risers game, Paris Martins broke in behind the defense and scored what appeared to be an early goal. The offside whistle came late, however, and Martins’ goal was waved off.
A minute later, Martins got one that counted, and the Risers were off and running toward their first victory of the season.
The Risers routed FC Adrenaline 8-2 on Saturday evening at Reeths-Puffer High School, securing their first win of the season and keeping the second annual Stealth Soccer Founders Cup in Muskegon.
Martins and Daniel Luzindya led the way with two goals each, while Jube Rodriguez, Ben Mast, Matthew Robinson and Charlie VanRees each added one.
“We’ve actually played very well the last three weeks, we just hadn’t been rewarded with a win yet,” said Risers head coach Ben Ritsema. “We are starting to come along, we’re getting to know each other better, we know each other’s strengths.
“We’re trusting each other more, we’re listening to each other and that in turn lets us play at a faster pace.”
Martin’s icebreaking goal came just two minutes into the game, and the hinges on the floodgates were well oiled. The Risers, now 1-5 on the season, added three more goals in the first 25 minutes of the game to burst out to a 4-0 lead.
The Risers used speed and probing through balls to break FC Adrenaline’s defensive ranks. Luzindya netted his first on an early laser shot, and added his second five minutes later after deking the FC Adrenaline goalie and converting a point-blank tap in.
The rest of the contest went further in Muskegon’s favor, as the home side continued to exploit its speed advantage to turn the game into a blowout.
“We have some tremendous speed,” Ritsema said. “We on purpose have been working with a formation to utilize (our) speed more on the outside. I think it worked beautifully.”
With the game well in hand early, Ritsema was able to turn to his bench and send in subs who hadn’t seen much time prior to the game. Three of those subs — Mast, Robinson and VanRees — made the most of their opportunities, converting goals in limited minutes.
“I was very, very, very happy to get in some players that have been working really hard,” Ritsema said. “Even more exciting was that there was no letdown. You could not tell the first unit from the second unit. They just kept pushing, kept playing and that just shows the talent level.”
The forward combo of Martins and Luzindya was electric all evening, helping to bust the game open early. The two were teammates at Wartburg College in Iowa, and the chemistry was apparent on Saturday.
“We live together and so we just connect really well,” Martins said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve had someone like that. I can connect with him. We can each beat people down the line and slot (the ball) across the box. We trust each other to take that good touch and put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Risers and FC Adrenaline were playing for the 2016 Stealth Soccer Founders Cup. Both teams wear gear made by Stealth, an apparel company that makes its wares in the United States. Muskegon also won the cup in 2015.
The Risers will return home on June 17 to host the Milwaukee Torrent of the National Premier Soccer League at Reeths-Puffer High School’s soccer field at 6 p.m.