Game One of M2 season is 'Game of the Year' candidate as Hawks tip Raptors

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- If the rest of the Major Arena Soccer League 2 season is anything like opening night, fans are in for a real treat in 2022-23.

Two new M2 franchises kicked off the new season in spectacular, nail-biting fashion that indoor soccer often provides as the Iowa Demon Hawks -- official MASL affiliate of the St. Louis Ambush -- nipped the Iowa Raptors, 7-6, in an instant classic shootout before an thoroughly entertained crowd at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

The game marked the return of pro indoor soccer to Cedar Rapids (the Rampage played in the same building for three seasons in the MASL between 2015-18) and was a reminder to Hawkeye State fans what they have been missing.

The game was tied at the half, and after three quarters, before the Raptors' Ayo Adebayo tied things up with less than five minutes to go in the fourth on a set piece restart from the top of the arc. It was his second goal of the game, as teammate Ricy Orizio also scored twice to lead all scorers.

Demon Hawks netminder Rainer Hauss -- who backstopped the Florida Tropics to the MASL championship series last spring, but is currently not eligible to play in M1 because of visa issues -- made sure his team got the "W", stopping all three of the Raptors tries in the shootout.

"Indoor soccer is unpredictable, so I was just happy I could help the team," Hauss said. It was quite a welcome home for Rainer, who played for the Rampage at what was then U.S. Cellular Arena, for during the 2018-18 season, winning six games. The Raptors had a man-advantage midway through the overtime, but Hauss and the Demon Hawks defense kept them off the floor.

A replay of the game can be found HERE

"It's the first time for us playing together, so we have a lot ito mprove on and we will for sure," he added, "so there's a lot more good things to come. And I appreciate all the fans that came out to the game. The excitement level was incredible."

The Demon Hawks -- who are the former Des Mointes United who played at the M3 level last year before moving up, and who will play their home games this year at the Power House before moving back to Des Moines in 2023-24 -- got goals from six different players, including Ricardo Diegues,  Deigo Pantuza, Mellos Tonatiuh, Miguel Rodriguez, Maycon Franca and Freddy Muniz.

The two teams are both back in action at the Power House next weekend as the Muskegon Risers, who advanced to the M2's Championship weekend last spring, will make their Iowa swing. They will meet the Demon Hawks Saturday night (6:30 CST), and the Raptors on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m. CST). Raptors tickets can be purchased  HERE . Tickets for the Demon Hawks game can be purchased online HERE