Denton Diablos FC advanced to Sunday’s Hank Steinbrecher Cup final with a 4-1 win over Lansdowne Yonkers FC. Forward Sebastian Mendez scored a hat trick, while midfielder Brayan Padilla added a goal and an assist to lead the Diablos to victory.
The first half was relatively even as both teams had their share of opportunities, and each team scored a single goal.
Denton started the match with several attacking runs, forcing some saves from Lansdowne goalkeeper Kabo Danso. The early dominance in possession led to a goal from the Diablos in the 16th minute. Mendez scored the goal off an assist from Padilla.
Lansdowne tied things up just three minutes later with a goal from winger Shaquille Sanchez, who was able to get behind the Denton keeper and slot one past the remaining defender.
Denton and Lansdowne traded chances in the 38th and 39th minutes. The Diablos took a shot from distance, while Lansdowne had a 1v1 opportunity broken up at the last moment. Just three minutes later, Denton had a shot go just wide of the goal. The Diablos would continue to threaten before halftime with shots going wide and over the crossbar but the score remained at 1-1.
Several substitutions came at halftime as both teams looked for fresh legs. Those substitutions continued as the game progressed with the physical play clearly taking its toll on both squads.
The second half belonged to the Diablos as the Texas side dominated the match on both sides of the ball, playing lights-out defense and being absolutely relentless in the attack.
Mendez would score his second goal in the 50th minute, giving the Diablos a 2-1 lead. The lead for the 2021 NPSL National Champions increased to 3-1 ten minutes later thanks to a goal from Padilla.
Lansdowne had some opportunities of their own in the 64th and 74th minutes. The first chance would result in a close-range shot going over the crossbar, while the second opportunity required a save from the Denton keeper.
The Diablos would take a commanding 4-1 lead with yet another Mendez goal in the 79th minute. The assist was credited to midfielder Julian Barajas.
The talent and skill set of Mendez was on full display thanks to an impressive hat trick in a national competition. The young striker from Paul Quinn College has also spent time with the Dallas Sidekicks and D’Feeters Kicks.
“Well, I didn’t really expect it to be honest,” Mendez said. “I was on the bench until my boy Sam (Coad) got injured. So I had to step up and just take care of business. But I wouldn’t be doing it without the team. We played really well. They’re the main reasons that I could get to my own accomplishment.”
Padilla, a promising young midfielder from the University of Maryland, was another important part of Denton’s attack.
“We had to move the ball fast,” Padilla said. “We had to just play smarter and not get into hard tackles because one of our players got injured, so I think it was important to move the ball faster.”
The Diablos will play the winner of the Flint City Bucks and Houston Regals match in the final on Sunday, June 5 at 1:00 pm. The winner will take home the hardware and earn bragging rights as the champion of champions, better known as the US Soccer National Amateur Champion.
Photo Credit: Todd Boone/NPSL.com