Denton draws with Birdville, 1-1

Denton kept pace with its District 11-4A competition, tying visiting Birdville 1-1 Friday night at Bronco Field. The now 2-2-3 (7 points) Broncos and Hawks remain in the playoff picture, still in a three-team deadlock for second place.

Denton came close to taking an early, senior forward Michael Husbands just missing over the right upright three minutes into the game. However, nothing would come of any of the Broncos’ chances, and in the 35th minute they would pay for some poor defense on the transition. After a Denton free kick, midfielder Adrian Baquero delivered a long cross from the wing to forward Jared Delgado, which junior keeper Christian Rodriguez attempted to step up and play. The ball bounced off of Rodriguez’ hands and went straight to Delgado for a header into the net.

“That was kind of a frustrating play,” head coach Scott Heffley said. “We committed too many players into the box, and not a single one of them challenged for the ball. Their goalkeeper made an easy catch [on Husbands’ throw-in] and distributed the ball quickly,  and they quickly transitioned and made us pay. They did not only create an opportunity, but were also surgical in finishing their opportunity as well.”

The Broncos started the second half strong and managed to get something out of it just four minutes in, when junior midfielder Chris Torres buried a cross from Husbands. The equalizer, however, was the only goal Denton would score, despite a Torres chance in the 62nd minute that just missed sneaking in under the crossbar, and a powerful strike from senior forward Sam re Calderon that was handled by Birdville goalie John McGuffin.

“Outside of the first 15 or 20 minutes, I didn’t think we played all that well,” Heffley said. “I think we worked hard to put ourselves in a good position… but at the end of the day we have to get results from these games.”

The Broncos narrowly avoided disaster in the 80th minute, when junior midfielder Zach Ardis headed the attempted clearance of a Birdville cross off the right upright. Fortunately, though, for the Broncos, there was not a Hawk in the area to pounce on the rebound.

“If we had to do it over again, I think Christian [Rodriguez] was calling for that ball and would’ve had an easy catch,” Heffley said. “Zach was really working hard to come back and defend, and that’s usually a good play. You don’t want that ball to go across the mouth of the goal.”

The referees had a busy night, blowing the whistle on 32 apparent fouls, with the teams splitting the total.

“You never can really count on what the referees are going to do on a given night,” Heffley said. “These referees weren’t bad; they were just pretty quick on the whistle. That made it difficult for either team to find a rhythm tonight. That being said, we were the beneficiaries of a lot of these free kicks that we have to do a better job of finishing.”

With first-place Byron Nelson’s 3-1 victory over Guyer, the Bobcats continue to run away with the District 11-4A title at 6-0-1 (13 points). Guyer (3-3-0, 6 points) falls out of the top four and is replaced by 3-3-1 (7 points) Argyle in the three-way tie for second after the Eagles defeated non-contender Lake Dallas by a score of 3-0. Birdville will host Argyle Tuesday having won the first meeting 1-0.

The Broncos travel to Trophy Club Tuesday to face Byron Nelson. The Bobcats’ only non-victory was to Denton in early February, when the two sides played 80 scoreless minutes. With just three games left to go, every contest is a big one.

“In this playoff race, every single point is going to count,” Heffley said. “We want to try our best to make sure that the last game of the season will just be determining our place in the playoffs rather than whether we get in or not, and I think we’re completely capable of doing that.”