Denton cruises past Saginaw, advances to second round

During+the+playoff+game+with+Saginaw+Wesley+Kohler+dribbles+up+the+field.+The+Broncos+won+the+game+2-0+and+advanced+to+the+area+round+against+Wichita+Falls+Hirschi+on+Thursday.

Photo by: Greg Bogomol

During the playoff game with Saginaw Wesley Kohler dribbles up the field. The Broncos won the game 2-0 and advanced to the area round against Wichita Falls Hirschi on Thursday.

After nine years of ineffectiveness in the postseason, Denton was finally on the winning side of a playoff game Tuesday, defeating District 12-4A third place finisher Saginaw 2-0 at Flower Mound High School.

The Broncos dominated the first half, keeping the ball on the Rough Riders’ end of the field for the majority of the opening 40 minutes.

It took only fifteen minutes for the Broncos to get on the board. Junior Jose Herrera was alone on a break into the opposing zone until entering the penalty area, where senior keeper James Gatewood tripped him up in an aggressive attempt on the ball. Junior midfielder Chris Torres, the Broncos’ leading scorer, buried the ensuing penalty kick to the upper right corner of the net.

I think that if we didn’t score right there, [Saginaw] just would’ve gotten more and more confident as the game went on,”

— Head Coach Scott Heffley

“I think that if we didn’t score right there, [Saginaw] just would’ve gotten more and more confident as the game went on,” head coach Scott Heffley said.

The rest of the half Denton tried to expand their one-goal lead, but nothing came of their other nine shots. Senior forward Michael Husbands came close a pair of times in the 24th and 26th minutes, but his header on the former sailed over the crossbar, and his shot from close range was reeled in by a sprawling Gatewood.

Just three minutes in to the second half, the Broncos were back on the attack again. Sophomore midfielder Jordan King dashed down the left sideline past the Saginaw defenders until delivering the ball across the box, where it bounced off Gatewood and to a waiting junior Denton midfielder Feliciano Amaya, who easily buried the shot.

In the 56th minute King was involved in action of a different sort, when on a Saginaw throw-in, he got into the space of Rough Rider junior Alex Ibarra. Frustrated, Ibarra began to shove and throw punches at King, immediately earning a red card. King was given a yellow for his part in the event and was substituted as play resumed with Saginaw down a man.

4A Soccer Playoff Bracket

The Rough Riders picked up the pace in the final 20 minutes, but they still failed to generate much of anything to test Denton keeper Christian Rodriguez. When the final whistle sounded, the Broncos were advancing to the next round of playoffs.

“At the beginning of the year we talked about where we wanted to be, and this is where we wanted to be,”  Heffley said. “You’re always a bit worried, especially in the first round playoff game, because nerves might me a bit of a factor, but I thought for the most part the guys really came out and had a good game.”

The win was the first in the playoffs for Denton soccer since 2005, when the Broncos defeated Wichita Falls 4-2 en route to a Regional Final berth. (They were defeated in overtime by eventual 4A state champion Del Valle, 2-1.)

“I feel like we’re good enough to not only win a playoff game, but advance,” Heffley said. “To go out and get this first one under our belt is a relief.”

The stands at Neal E. Wilson Jaguar Stadium were filled with purple and gold despite the game’s setting at a neutral field.

“I’m not sure the guys will admit it, but sometimes they feel like maybe soccer doesn’t get the acknowledgement that it should, or that they would like to see,” Heffley said. “When you have a good and loud crowd like we had tonight, our guys get excited, and they want to play even more to please the crowd.”

The players did not deny the effect of the crowd on the game.

“We were all talking about it,” Husbands said. “It definitely played a role. I haven’t seen anything like that in a game I’ve played in. That was really neat. It felt like a football game, and it made it all the more fun to play.”

The bi-district victory sends the Broncos to an area matchup with Hirschi of District 9-4A. The Huskies finished fourth in the district race with game time set for tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Wichita Falls.