CORINTH — With a plenitude of playoff possibilities up in the air, the Denton Broncos entered Tuesday’s game against Lake Dallas knowing a win cemented a second-place finish in District 11-4A.
After a flat opening half, Denton coach Scott Heffley didn’t feel like his team was playing to its potential, so he challenged one of the Broncos’ go-to scorers, Chris Torres.
On the first shot after intermission, Torres responded with a goal less than three minutes into the half. The Falcons eventually evened the game at 1, but Denton answered minutes later to claim a 2-1 victory and send the Broncos to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“We knew that a win or a tie would keep us in second place, and despite not having a good performance, we still found a way to get the result we needed. And that’s a credit to our boys, who have worked really hard,” Heffley said. “They’ve sort of changed the mentality of the program in the last three years — creating this winning mentality — and we look forward to many years to come.”
Torres opened the scoring at the 43:54 mark of the second half after Zach Alspach’s centering pass found its way to Michael Husbands in the box. Husbands, occupying a Lake Dallas defender, dropped the ball to Torres, who lifted a bar-down shot to the top right corner.
“The first half was frustrating, and we challenged them to play with more intensity,” Heffley said. “We said if Lake Dallas was going to get us, then they were going to get us, but we don’t want to be outworked like we were in the first half.”
The Falcons (4-12, 1-9 district) answered with Marco Subias’ goal off a loose ball that found its way into the box after a Lake Dallas throw-in with 18:51 left.
With 15:12 remaining, Jose Herrera collided with Lake Dallas goalkeeper Chance Pope and two Falcon defenders, which allowed Sam ReCalderon to follow the play and deposit the winning goal in the gaping net.
“It was frustrating to give up the goal to Lake Dallas to let them level it, but what I admire about this team is we weren’t playing our best soccer today,” Heffley said. “They continued to fight and they continued to get results. We’ve been in situations against Byron Nelson, Birdville and even Guyer where we’ve been down or we’ve let the teams come back. We were able to finish out strong, and today was no different.”
Denton (8-8-5, 4-2-4), which will face District 12-4A third-place finisher Saginaw on Monday or Tuesday, finished the season with 12 points behind first-place Trophy Club Nelson. With Argyle owning tiebreakers over Denton, a loss to Lake Dallas combined with an Eagles victory over Nelson could have had the Broncos in hot water.
“Saginaw is coming from a district similar to ours,” Heffley said. “There’s four competitive teams, and any one of them could have been in first place. We know they’re going to be battle-tested and we know they’re accustomed to playing tight games. We anticipate it being an 80-minute battle.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.