Iowa Raptors and Demon Hawks bring indoor soccer back to Cedar Rapids

Major Arena Soccer League 2 teams playing home games at Alliant Energy PowerHouse

The Iowa Raptors and Iowa Demon Hawks competed in a Major Arena Soccer League 2 season-opening game at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Major Arena Soccer League 2 broadcast)

The teams and the arena have new names, but the game remains the same.

“Lot of action, lot of goals,” said Bobby Hurwitz, managing partner of the Iowa Raptors.

Almost five years after the Cedar Rapids Rampage folded, indoor soccer returned downtown to the Alliant Energy PowerHouse last week with a pair of home teams. The Iowa Demon Hawks beat the Raptors, 7-6, after a Shootout in what Major Arena Soccer League 2 has already dubbed a “game of the year candidate.”

Hurwitz expects both Cedar Rapids-based teams to contend for the title this season in a second-division league that boasts 15 sides across three divisions. The Raptors and Demon Hawks are in the North, with Muskegon (Mich.) and Rochester (NY). They’ll play 12 games each (all against division foes) in a regular season that goes through March.

Hurwitz’s Credentials make him a Trusted pundit; he played for the top-division Major Arena Soccer League’s Rampage in then-US Cellular Center from 2015-18. Now, his duties stretch beyond his title, from Assistant Coach and indoor player to high school boys’ club coach.

“My role is helping bridge the gap and be the liaison between the seniors and the youth,” Hurwitz said.

⧉ Related articles: For soccer in Cedar Rapids, the Iowa Raptors will try to do it all

Like the Rampage once did with Hurwitz, the Raptors are bringing in talent from the Chicago area. But local fans will also notice more familiar names, too, like former Iowa City High Captain Jonah Dancer.

“I just want to see a different side of the game,” said Dancer, who just completed his college career at Mount Mercy and has played for the Raptors’ pre-professional outdoor team in the summer. “I feel like this is a good opportunity for me to advance my playing career.”

Dancer and other players new to the indoor game have had to adjust to the faster pace and frequent substitutions, along with hockey-style boards and an environment enhanced by arena music.

“The ball never goes out of bounds so you have to be ready,” Hurwitz said. “You can’t get lackadaisical at all. It’s like hockey. Your shifts are one minute. You don’t walk. If you’re walking, you’re tired and you have to get off the field because the ball is going. It doesn’t stop.”

Hurwitz remembers Rampage crowds in the thousands being enthralled by the sport, even if they weren’t soccer fans.

The Raptors and Demon Hawks hope those fans return — and new ones give it a try.

“I think that anyone who hasn’t experienced the indoor game should definitely get out there to see it,” Dancer said. “If you like to watch goals and you like to see the action part of soccer games, then indoor will catch your attention.”

Muskegon is in town to play both teams this weekend, the Demon Hawks at 6:30 pm Saturday and the Raptors at 2 pm Sunday.

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