By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – Everything is pretty relative when you’re a new team in a tough league, regardless of the sport.

There will be losses, and some will be pretty ugly. What matters in the first year is how the team responds and grows from the experience, according to Muskegon Risers owner Matt Schmitt.

Muskegon’s Rylee Vruggink battles for the possession. Photo/Leo Valdez

Last week the Risers women’s squad suffered its worst defeat of the season so far, 10-0 to Detroit City FC, and some fans were probably wondering how the players would mentally react to that drubbing when they took the field again on Saturday night.

The answer? Not too badly. The Risers lost to Lansing United 5-1 at Muskegon Catholic Central’s Kehren Stadium, but they showed a willingness to keep fighting, and came up with a little more offense, in the defeat.

The victory was the first of the season for Lansing United, which is now 1-4-1 in the United Women’s Soccer League. The Risers fell to 1-4.

Muskegon will be on the road in Peoria next weekend, before returning for its final home game of the season on June 26.

“It’s just a matter of reminding them that you have to be on 100 percent of the time, and if you make 10 mistakes at this level it can result in 10 goals,” said Schmitt, who has been helping coach the Risers this season. “We just remind them that they are going to face some really good competition, and their focus needs to be on getting better and making progress, which is what we saw tonight.”

Muskegon forward Kandis Orns (right) watches the ball as she tries to get around a defender. Photo/Leo Valdez

The goals came in quick waves on for Lansing United, beginning early in the game. The visitors collected three goals within seven minutes, from Camryn Evans, Anna Stinson and Kaley Buck, to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

The Risers scored their first goal in three weeks about four minutes into the second half, when Mackenzie Selvius took a pass near the net and headed it in, making the score 3-1.

Lansing got its fourth goal, from Bria Telemaque, with about 38 minutes left in the game, and another from Stinson with about 30 minutes left, to wrap up the scoring.

Lansing outshot Muskegon 10-3 in the first half and 8-5 in the second. The Risers were fortunate that three hard Lansing shots hit the goal crossbar over the course of the game and bounced harmlessly away.

Muskegon starting goalie Erika Gabriel turned in her usual strong performance, stopping 7 of 10 shots in the first half and 5 of 7 in the second, despite the constant pressure she faced from the visitors.

Despite the four-goal loss, Schmitt said the Risers bounced back well from last week’s far uglier defeat, and showed a willingness to keep up the fight.

“We had probably our two best practices this week,” Schmitt said. “It starts with individual accountability – instead of pointing fingers at others, asking yourself what you can do better – and we’re seeing that. It’s going to take a year of understanding what it’s going to take to be competitive in this league. We’re not that far off.”