After trailing 10-5 at the end of the third quarter, Muskegon fought all the way back and tied the game 11-11 when Aldony Mendez scored his fifth goal of the night.
The score remained the same until the very last moments the game.
With only 0.5 left on the clock, the Risers’ Elmedin Zukic was called for a blue card penalty just outside of the defensive box.
Following a Muskegon time out, Fort Wayne’s Ethan Vigano ripped the free kick into the top left corner of the net as the horn sounded, sending Fort Wayne home with the stunning 12-11 victory.
“I was very confident,” said Vigano about the game-winning goal. “Being that close, I’ve practiced many times, and it’s almost second nature to put it in the net.”
The loss was difficult for Muskegon to take after working so hard to come back from the large deficit.
“That was a roller coaster game if I’ve ever seen one,” said Risers Coach Ben RItsma. “We didn’t play good defense in the first half and got into a big hole. They had the ball the last 10-15 seconds and made a play.”
Things looked good at the very beginning for Muskegon when Mendez netted the opening goal only 16 seconds into the game.
But Fort Wayne responded by scoring the next five goals to take a commanding lead. Muskegon’s Scott Doney scored the final goal in the first quarter at the 13:53 mark, leaving the visitors with a 5-2 lead.
Fort Wayne outscored Muskegon 3-1 in the second quarter, with the lone Riser goal coming off the foot of Zukic, who was assisted by Mendez. Fort Wayne held an 8-3 lead at the halftime break.
Each team found the back of the net twice in the third quarter, giving the Risers a daunting 10-5 deficit to overcome in the final 15 minutes.
And they managed to pull it off.
Miguel Flores started the comeback with a goal at the 3:07 mark of the fourth quarter, cutting the Riser deficit to 10-6.
After a Fort Wayne goal made the score 11-6, Mendez netted two goals in 35 seconds, making the score 11-8 with 7:59 remaining.
Doney netted a goal just 13 seconds later, making the score 11-9, then Flores scored again, cutting the Risers’ deficit to one with six minutes left.
Mendez netted his fifth and final goal at the 10:02 mark, knotting the score 11-11.
“I like to work hard,” said Mendez about his offensive performance. “I wanted the ball on my feet because I’m going to score.”
The two teams each had shots on goal before the final free kick settled the issue painfully for Muskegon.
The Risers were outshot 26-22 on the night.
The Risers dropped to 2-1-1 on the season. They will host Kalamazoo at home on March 7.
M – :16 Aldony Mendez – 1-0 Risers
FW – 4:12 Balca Souleman – 1-1
FW – 5:02 Roman Lopez – 2-1 Fort Wayne
FW – 9:09 Matheus Lozado – 3-1 Fort Wayne
FW – 10:43 Jose Rodriguez – 4-1 Fort Wayne
FW – 11:30 Jose Rodriguez – 5-1 Fort Wayne
M – 12:32 Scott Doney – 5-2 Fort Wayne
FW – 3:00 Roman Lopez – 6-2 Fort Wayne
M – 9:57 Elmedin Zukic – 6-3 Fort Wayne
FW – 11:25 Mitch Falkenstein – 7-3 Fort Wayne
FW – 14:33 Matheus Lozado – 8-3 Fort Wayne
M – :30 Aldony Mendez – 8-4 Fort Wayne
M – 12:37 Brandon Dinsmore – 8-5 Fort Wayne
FW – 14:42 Non roster player – 9-5 Fort Wayne
FW – 14:56 Ethan Vigano – 10-5 Fort Wayne
M – 3:07 Miguel Flores – 10-6 Fort Wayne
FW – 6:01 Roman Lopez – 11-6 Fort Wayne
M – 6:26 Aldony Mendez – 11-7 Fort Wayne
M – 7:01 Aldony Mendez – 11-8 Fort Wayne
M – 7:14 Scott Doney – 11-9 Fort Wayne
M – 9:00 Miguel Flores – 11-10 Fort Wayne
M – 10:02 Aldony Mendez – 11-11
FW – 15:00 Ethan Vigano – 12-11 Fort Wayne