Pair of Maverick soccer players cap off summer with championship


Jordan McAlpine

Nil Ayats scored six goals during the regular season for the Des Moines Menace, which tied him for the team lead. He followed that up with a hat trick in the playoffs. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics

There’s no denying Hugo Kametani and Nil Ayats were two of the most electric players to watch at Caniglia Field this past spring. Kametani, the reigning Summit League Newcomer of the Year, and Ayats were Nos. 1 and 2 in nearly every statistical category last season and helped lead the Mavericks to the first NCAA win in program history.

What’s even more exciting for head coach Bob Warming and Maverick fans is both will return this fall.

However, they’ll do so with some new hardware. Both Kametani and Ayats spent this summer playing for the Des Moines Menace, a USL League Two team, who were recently crowned league and national champions.

“@nilayats and @kamehugo14 You two played big roles and helped this team do what they did this year before getting injured-Wishing you both speedy recoveries @Kyle_J_Krause Thank you a thousand times over for ALL you do for our sport! Come see us this fall!! @OmahaMSOC,” Warming said in a recent Tweet.

The USL is considered the top pre-professional soccer league by many and features several Division I players from around the country.

Kametani appeared in six games for Des Moines during the regular season and netted two goals. Ayats, his fellow Maverick, found the back of the net five times during the regular season, which put him in a three-way tie for the team lead in goals. He also appeared in six games.

As a team, Des Moines finished the regular season 11-1 and claimed their third straight regular season title. That was followed up with a perfect 5-0 run through the playoffs which earned them the second national championship in club history.

Ayats opened the playoffs with an impressive performance as he scored a hat trick in a dominant 5-0 win in the Central Conference Quarterfinals. However, he left with an injury early in the next match and did not return. Kametani was one of the 11 starters in the National Championship, which Des Moines won by a 1-0 final, but did not factor into the scoring.

The Omaha men’s soccer team opens up their 2021 season on Aug. 26 at Bradley. The home opener comes just three days later against Tulsa on Aug. 29.