Bucks’ second half display denies Denton Diablos the Hank Steinbrecher Cup

The Denton Diablos came close to adding to the NPSL Championship after earning a spot at the Hank Steinbrecher Cup this past weekend. The US Amateur Soccer Association champion of champions tournament saw USL League Two Flint City Bucks hosting at their Atwood Stadium home. Fellow Texans, Houston Regals qualified as winners of the USSSA National Champions League Cup, as well as New York’s Lansdowne Yonkers who qualified via the National Amateur Cup.

The Diablos took on Lansdowne Yonkers in Friday’s first semi final. After Sam Coad exited the game in the first half, his replacement Sebastian Mendes sent Denton through with a hat-trick in a 4-1 win. Former FC Dallas youngster Brayan Padilla scored the other goal.

Houston took the host side to penalties in the other semi final, with the Bucks coming through in view of their fourth consecutive cup named for the US Soccer Hall of Famer who has become a popular fixture at the induction ceremonies in Frisco.

Denton named a near-unchanged team for Sunday’s finale as Flint brought back a couple of players rested in the semi final. Brayan Padilla had a couple of fantastic looks in the first half, including a shot off the crossbar from a Brandon Cerda cross.

Going into half time, Denton looked the better in possession and were creating the better opportunities, but a strong start to the second half from the four-time USL League Two champions.

A foul in the first 30 seconds of the half set up a free kick 25 yards out that Nico Clasen curled off the bar with Jannik Videbaek able to clean up.

Just six minutes later the Bucks doubled their lead through Dani Hernandez. Denton held well against a strong period of possession on the edge of their area, until Emeka Eneli found the run of Brajdi Cekrezi down the right to the byline. The Greek winger was able to tease a high cross over Diablos keeper Connor Pettigrew for Hernandez to finish.

A busy opening ten minutes of the half ended with some renewed hope for Denton as Brayan Padilla earned and converted a penalty. Both sides struggled to create clear cut chances amidst a hard fought midfield battle.

Ultimately the Bucks held off a late surge to claim their fourth consecutive Hank Steinbrecher Cup in front of their own fans.

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