In this article, you will get all information regarding Muskegon Risers preparing for most difficult test yet in Midwest Regional semifinals

In this article, you will get all the information regarding Muskegon Risers preparing for most difficult test yet in Midwest Regional semifinals

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MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Risers are riding a tidal wave of momentum into Friday’s home playoff matchup against Duluth FC.

The members of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) are fresh off clinching the Great Lakes Conference Championship last Thursday with a dominant 2-0 decision over FC Columbus and will now turn their attention to a riveting matchup against a Duluth FC squad that presents plenty of problems for its opponents.

“I think they are probably the best opponent we could face in the regional,” said Risers head coach Stu Collins. “I was expecting to see them in the regional final but that’s not the way the seeding played out. They’re high energy and they’re pretty well organized. They want to press, and they want to be on their front foot the whole game.

“We just have to be prepared for their attack. I think we saw a little bit of that style early on in the season, but we haven’t seen that a ton lately because teams eventually started playing us a little more cautiously and didn’t press as much. As long as we’re sharp in the early minutes, and we can get over that initial shock to the system, I think we will settle in just fine.”

The NPSL Midwest Regional semifinals will be held at Oakridge High School on Friday with No. 2 Med City FC facing off with No. 3 Cleveland FC (Rochester, MN) at 4:30 p.m. followed by the top-seeded Risers and No. 4 Duluth FC taking the pitch at 7:30 p.m.

The regional championship match will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. from Oakridge High School.

Advance tickets are $4 for youth and $8 for adults and may be purchased at muskegonrisers.com/tickets. Tickets are also available at the gate for $5 and $10 respectively.

One of the keys to success for the Risers this season has been the consistency and work ethic that the entire roster possesses. Collins is sometimes in awe of how well the team has come together considering the group boasts players from Serbia, South Africa, Ireland, England, Kosovo, Australia and the United States.

“I think if you watched us in May during that first match of the season against Milwaukee and then saw us play last Thursday, I think you’d see the same style of play,” Collins said. “Our characteristics and our behavior has always been the same and our style of play has always been the same. We’ve just probably gotten a bit sharper and a bit better. We’ve always defended really well and we’ve maintained a pretty good attack as well.

“All of these guys have worked extremely hard this season and I think you’re seeing all of that hard work paying off. We view ourselves as a dangerous team because we’ve been so unselfish and every one of these players values team success over individual glory. That’s what makes us so special in a lot of ways.”

The Muskegon Risers would also automatically qualify for the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a victory Friday night. The national tournament is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States and features 100 teams from across four professional leagues, including Major League Soccer (MLS).

“It’s not something that happens very often,” said Collins. “I think (Grand Rapids) FC made it there once, but it doesn’t happen a lot around this area. It would be really cool to be able to say we achieved that. It’s not a tournament that just anybody has access to either. You have to earn it and we feel like we have definitely earned that spot and we’re hoping Friday night’s result cements that for us. It’s an experience of a lifetime for these players. It’s something they’ll never forget and something that’s very unique and special.”

For Collins, a former Risers player, an opportunity to win a regional championship would justify all the work the organization has put in to make the team’s incredible season a possibility.

“To me, personally, it would mean a lot,” he said. “You give up a lot of time with your family and most of your summer during the outdoor season and everyone else on this team, the coaching staff and the ownership group has made a lot of personal sacrifices as well.

“As much as it would mean to me, I want it for the boys more than anything else. I want them to be showcased for what they are and what they’ve accomplished this season. We all put in the time so that we could go on this journey and hopefully, we cap it off with a regional championship and a national championship. Our goals all season were to win the league championship, the regional championship and the national championship, so we want to keep this going.

“Right now, we are just focused on the task at hand and playing our best Friday night so that we can continue this journey.”

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Muskegon Risers preparing for most difficult test yet in Midwest Regional semifinals



Muskegon Risers preparing for most difficult test yet in Midwest Regional semifinals

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