By Jason Goorman
The Muskegon Risers’ inaugural season came to a close on Tuesday night but also with a debut.
Riser goalie Gabby Klemp made her first start of the season and showed what she has been working on with the club.
Muskegon fell 4-1 to visiting Corktown AFC, but Klemp, and her teammates on both sides of the field, kept it a contest.
Muskegon goalie Gabby Klemp makes a save on the ground. Photo/Leo Valdez
While the Risers gave a talented Corktown a challenge in the match, the club also showed what it has been working on the practice field.
Klemp, a 2014 Reeths-Puffer grad, made her season debut in the final game of the season after training locally with the club starting back in August.
“My name was called so I wanted to step in,” said Klemp. “For the first game back, I felt good. A little bit of brushing off the dust in the first half. But it went by pretty quick.”
Before Klemp joined the Risers, she had finished her final year at Division 1 Chicago State in 2018 and had been playing between Grand Rapids FC and pickup matches around Muskegon.
With the inaugural season on the books, Klemp remarked on the the high level of play and how many opportunities there were in the greater Muskegon area before the Risers arrival.
“Not much,” said Klemp. “You had teams like GRFC that started in 2016, and that’s where I started in 2017, other than that, in Muskegon it was just, ‘Hey let’s get people together to play.'”
Sophie Mueller gets ready to rip a shot for Muskegon. Photo/Leo Valdez
The game meant a lot to Klemp after getting the nod. All of her family was able to be at the stadium to see her season beginning in such a unique way.
“Being local, it’s super fun,” said Klemp. “(Risers Soccer) is in my backyard. I’m like 10 minutes away. My dad, my grandma, were here. My uncle and aunts and our whole family I think, and some friends.”
In the match against Corktown, Klemp and her defenders prevented a number of shots on goal. The ones that did make it through, Klemp was on top of.
Klemp posted five saves in the first half, making her final one in the closing seconds. She made three big stops during a barrage of AFC attacks in the span of three minutes to start the second half.
The Risers offense battled to find shots, even though falling behind 2-0 in the first half on a pair of talented Corkstown setups.
Sophie Mueller put Muskegon within a goal on a tally that found the corner from 25 yards out, seven minutes before half.
Risers forwards Holly Bowling and Caitlin Mullen gave Muskegon solid scoring opportunities midway through the second half, nearly tying the score on a Mullen breakaway chip shot that went off the crossbar.
After succumbing to another pair of talented Corktown goals to close out the game and season, Riser midfielder Claudia Muessig was confident about her team’s play.
“I think we had a lot of chances, especially in the second half,” said Muessig about the Risers offensive attacks. “This season has been a good way to get your touches, continue to play, get in shape and hearing different people’s perspectives.”