Pair of late goals propels Broncos past Pirates

Broncos advance to Regional Quarter Finals, Round III of Playoffs

On a windy night that momentarily evoked memories of the Broncos’ loss to Rider in the third round of the 2014 playoffs, Friday Denton overcame a 1-0 deficit with 17 minutes left to top Granbury and keep their playoff run alive. With the win, the Broncos advance to the Regional Quarterfinal.

The two sides were evenly matched for much of the first half, both teams knocking on the door but not converting. After 30 minutes, things began to unravel for Denton. Granbury mounted the pressure, and senior Chandler Page earned a yellow card for a dirty tackle in the 33rd. Sophomore Bryce Gentry broke the deadlock quickly after Page’s booking, finishing a Granbury counterattack with a low, curled shot that banked off the inside of the far post and into the net. In the aftermath of the goal, Denton head coach Ryan Dunlevy was shown yellow for repeated berating of the officials. The score remained 1-0 after 40 minutes.

The Broncos opened the second half on the offensive; however, each attack ended without a goal. In the 52nd minute, they came close, with junior Wes Kohler receiving a looping pass within six yards of the net, but Kohler’s first touch was too heavy, putting the ball behind harmlessly for a goal kick.

Denton got their break in the 63rd minute. Senior Felicano Amaya, led into the attacking third by a long ball over the Pirates’ defense, was brought down illegally by the last defender in the penalty area, leading the official to point to the penalty spot. After some deliberation on who would take the kick, Dunlevy sent senior Chris Torres, who in the previous game against Carter-Riverside scored from the spot. Torres went right; the keeper went left; and the score went level with 17 minutes left to play.

There is no such thing as a bad team in the playoffs, and I don’t know that they believed me completely going in.”

— Head Soccer Coach Ryan Dunlevy

Just three minutes later, the Broncos would take the lead when senior Zach Alspach delivered a ball into the path of Amaya, who rocketed it into the net on the volley, sending the traveling Denton support into delirium. After 14 minutes of defense, including a sprawling kick save by senior Christian Rodriguez with eight minutes left, the Broncos’ third-round berth was secure.

“This is what we’ve worked for,” Dunlevy said. “I put adversity in front of them, and push them to the limit, so that whenever we get to situations like that, they’re tired, they’re down, they get it, but they step up, and they fight, they fight, they fight, they fight, and they make it happen. I can’t say enough about them.”

The Pirates finished the regular season 12-3-1 and runners-up in District 8-5A, pushing the Broncos to the brink, but Dunlevy thinks that his players might have underestimated the challenge.

“I told the boys coming in that every single team from this point on is a good team,” Dunlevy said. “There is no such thing as a bad team in the playoffs, and I don’t know that they believed me completely going in. Halftime, they realized that, they came back, and we changed back to what we’re good at and what we do, and we were effective with it.”

Denton (18-2-4) advances to the Regional Quarterfinal to play South Hills at Northwest ISD in Justin. The Scorpions, after a 16-5-2 (8-3-0) regular season and second-place finish in District 7-5A, topped Crowley 1-0 in the Bi-District round and then squeaked past Grapevine by an identical score with a 71st-minute header in the Area round.

After three straight games of playing a stronger second half than a first half, Dunlevy wants more than 40 minutes from his players in the third round.

“We have to play a full 80 the way we play,” Dunlevy said. “Whenever we get away from it, we struggle. And whenever we do it, we’re successful, so it’s a matter of putting 80 minutes together next week against South Hills.”