By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Risers were staging an impressive comeback, thanks in large part to Joe Broekhuizen.

The tall forward scored his second and third goals of the game in the opening minutes of the second half, helping the Risers overcome a two-goal deficit and tie the Cincinnati Swerve on Friday night.

But shortly after scoring his third goal, Broekhuizen broke his finger, and everyone wondered if the steam would go out of the Risers’ offense.

TJ Ifaturoti pressures the Cincinnati goalie. Photo/Leo Valdez

As it turned out, there was nothing to fear, because Adam Clauss took over where where Broekhuizen left off.

He scored three straight goals, all in the third quarter, to propel the Risers to an exciting 12-7 come-from-behind win over the Swerve at L.C. Walker Arena.

The Risers, who improved to 3-7, will host their final home game of the season on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the Chicago Mustangs.

Risers Coach Ben Ritsema said that rather than worry when Broekhuizen was injured, the team became even more inspired.

“He ran his hand into the wall and broke his finger,” said Ritsema, whose team engaged in a physical and and intense battle with the Swerve. “He had to go to the ER to get that reset. But if anything, that kind of unified the guys. It was a win-for-Joe type of thing.

“He brought us back and we wanted to finish it for him.”

The situation did not look hopeful for the Risers after the first half.

Paris Martins controls the ball for Muskegon. Photo/Leo Valdez

The game was tied 1-1 at the end of the first period, and 3-3 midway through the second, but Cincinnati scored the final two goals of the first half to take a 5-3 lead into the locker room.

TJ Ifaturoti, Broekhuizen and Nick Capisciolto all scored first-half goals for Muskegon.

The Risers came out flying in the third period, getting two quick goals from Broekhuizen within the first 4:40 to tie the score at 5-5.

But just as the crowd was celebrating, Broekhuizen walked off the field holding his hand in obvious pain.

That’s when Clauss stepped in, scoring three consecutive goals – the first two on Muskegon power plays after Cincinnati infractions – to give the Risers an 8-5 lead.

Aldony Mendez added two fourth-period goals for the Risers, while Matt Schmitt and Paris Martins added one apiece.

“That was something that coach made us very conscious of, that we need to score on our power plays,” said Clauss, who graduated from Spring Lake High School and played four years of Division 1 college soccer at Detroit Mercy. “We did that tonight, which helped us win.”

When asked if he had ever had a scoring burst like he did in the third period, Clauss said, “This is my first year playing indoor soccer, so it was a first for me. My teammates put me in great positions.”

The Risers were in the uncomfortable position of having to use an untested goalkeeper – Marty Herzhaft – because starter Jay Toric missed the game due to work obligations.

Herzhaft was shaky at moments in the first half, but was stellar in the second, stopping 7 of 9 Swerve shots to allow the Risers to pull away.

“Marty’s been training with us all year,” Ritsema said. “He was born and raised in Muskegon and has played some indoor soccer locally. It was his turn to play tonight and I thought he did great.

“We were losing by two at halftime, and he couldn’t really let another goal in, because you definitely don’t want to go down by three. He made some great saves to keep us in the game. He got a little banged up out there. I hope he’s ready for tomorrow.”