FLOWER MOUND — After a disappointing conclusion to last season’s playoff run, the Denton Broncos showed they were ready for the spotlight this time around in their opening bi-district playoff game.
As the No. 2 seed from District 11-4A faced third-seeded Saginaw from District 12-4A at the Neal Wilson Athletic Stadium in Flower Mound, the Broncos didn’t wait to assert themselves, scoring on a penalty kick 15 minutes in and padding their lead early in the second half on the way to a 2-0 victory.
“The boys came out and executed what we wanted,” Denton head coach Scott Heffley said. “You’re always a little bit worried about the first-round playoff game because you think nerves might be a factor, but they had a good game, in the first half especially.”
Along with its usually stout midfield and backline defense, Denton (9-8-5) forced the issue offensively early on but couldn’t penetrate the back line of the Rough Riders (15-5-5).
In the 15th minute, Jose Herrera was able to expose Saginaw’s defense, forcing their goalkeeper to come out and make a play. He was late getting to the ball which forced him to grab onto the oncoming Herrera, drawing a penalty kick.
The Broncos sent Chris Torres for the free kick, and after taking a few slow steps to entice Saginaw’s goalkeeper to make a move to the left, he rifled his shot to the gaping right side of the goal to give the Broncos the 1-0 lead.
“I think it gave us a little breathing room,” Heffley said. “It was a hustle setup by Jose. He chased the ball down and forced the goalkeeper to make a play that he wasn’t able to. It definitely gave us a sigh of relief. That team, if we didn’t score right there, they would have gotten more and more confident as the game went on.”
The Broncos tacked onto their lead less than three minutes into the second half as Jordan King found himself in the far corner of the field, where he began to dribble closer to the oncoming goalie and dished the ball into a bevy of players where Feliciano Amaya pounced on the loose ball and sent it into the left side for the 2-0 lead.
“We had to create opportunities from a little bit closer in and just prior to the ball that Jordan King played in, he had an opportunity to really attack the line,” Heffley said. “Before I could tell him anything about it, he got the ball back and he did attack the line giving us that great opportunity to score.”
The Broncos advance to Thursday’s area-round game, where it will face Wichita Falls Hirschi. A coin flip will determine if the game will be played either at 4 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls or at 6 p.m. at Bronco Field.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.