Ceres High School’s varsity boys water polo team kept its Western Athletic Conference championship hopes alive with a hard-fought 10-8 win over host Los Banos on Oct. 7.
“We’d have no chance to win the title if we lost,” Bulldogs head coach Tracy Bull said. “It was a must-win game. We knew that going in.”
Sean Carr totaled 13 saves for second-place Ceres High, which improved to 2-1 in the WAC standings.
“He’s playing at a high level right now,” Bull said.
Ceres High teammate Zach Jones scored eight goals.
Cole Silva and Bobby Baranski chipped in with one goal apiece.
The 2013 WAC-champion Tigers dropped to 2-2 in league play.
“I’m really happy for the boys,” Bull said. “It’s a huge win for us. Los Banos beat us twice by one goal last season.”
Erik Weststeyn limited Los Banos standout/2013 WAC MVP Jared Benitez to just one goal.
“The kids executed the game plan,” Bull said. “The mindset was to harass him for 28 minutes. Erik did a tremendous job.”
Playing with the sun in their eyes, the Bulldogs fell behind 3-0 in the opening four minutes.
Ceres High cut the deficit to one goal heading into the second period.
“We couldn’t see,” Bull said. “Plus, we played poor defense. But we didn’t panic.”
Tied at 5-all, both teams tallied one goal in the third period.
Jones scored four goals in a row to give the Bulldogs a 10-6 lead midway through the final period.
Zach’s racked up 30 goals in the three league games this year.
“We knew they were tired,” Bull said. “We upped our counterattack.”
Waged in a back-and-forth battle, Ceres High pulled ahead and held on for the victory. Los Banos scored two late goals.
“You’re never comfortable until the game is over,” Bull said.
Tim Campbell, originally thought to be lost for the season with an elbow injury, will return to the Bulldogs’ lineup this week.
“The doctor cleared him and he can practice now,” Bull said. “He’s not going to do any damage to it. It’s pain tolerance. If it hurts, he won’t play. He’s a competitive guy. He wants to contribute.”