By Andrew Johnson
The Risers usually play at Reeths-Puffer High School, but moved their final home game of the season to Nelson to illustrate their determination to relocate to the downtown area – perhaps in a new shoreline stadium – for the 2017 summer campaign.
“I thought it was awesome to finish here in downtown Muskegon,” said Martins, who scored the Risers’ first three goals of the game, all in the first half. “We had a huge turnout of fans and I think it was great.”
The victory was the fourth in a row for the red-hot Risers, who started the season with five straight losses but are now 5-5-1.
The team will complete its season next Saturday, traveling to play the Milwaukee Torrent. The Risers will return in January, playing at L.C. Walker Arena in their inaugural season in the Premier Arena Soccer League.
“Our chemistry has gotten so much better over the summer and it just keeps continuing to build,” Martins said.
That chemistry was on full display Saturday, when the Risers used excellent passing to create chance after chance in the offensive zone. In total, the Risers had 13 shots on goal while only allowing six shots from Indiana.
The scoring started 11 minutes into the game when Martins found the net, with an assist from Luzindya. Martins scored his second goal only five minutes later to give Muskegon a 2-0 lead.
After Indiana responded with two goals to tie the game, Martins again found the back of the net at the 23-minute mark to give Muskegon a 3-2 lead and complete his early hat trick.
“I’ve never had a half trick in a half, let alone in a semipro game,” Martins said. “It was exciting but I still wish I could have put a few more in the back of the goal.”
Luzindya got in on the scoring parade only 40 seconds after Martins’ final goal. Luzindya also assisted on the next Risers’ goal, which occurred only a minute later to put the home team up 5-2.
Muskegon added a goal in the 39th minute and went to the halftime break with a 6-2 lead.
In the second half Luzindya added two more goals to complete his hat trick and seal down the easy victory.
“We’ve grown leaps and bounds this year for sure,” said Risers Coach Ben Ritsema. “We still have one more game but I really like where we’re headed.
“It was great to be downtown and I hope the fans really enjoyed it. Hopefully we’ll be downtown somewhere next year to continue it.”
Ritsema said he hopes the team’s current momentum will carry into the indoor season.
“A lot of guys will hopefully be back for the winter, and I think this is a great way for us to move forward as a team into the indoor game,” he said.