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CHS soccer team tops Sierra, boosts playoff hopes
Ceres High School's varsity boys soccer team escaped with a 1-0 victory over Sierra in a heated battle for positioning in the Valley Oak League standings on Thursday at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

The second-place Bulldogs (10-2-1) increased their lead to four points over the third-place Timberwolves (8-2-3).

Crosstown rival Central Valley (11-0-2, 35 points) will win its second straight conference crown if it takes care of business during the rest of the VOL season.

"I wouldn't be surprised if two of the three teams meet in the section finals," Bulldogs head coach Koeurn Phe said.

Officials cut the Ceres High-Sierra contest short by several minutes after an on-field skirmish nearly erupted between players. Five of the game's seven yellow cards were issued after intermission, including three to the Timberwolves.

"We knew it was going to be a physical game," Bulldog forward Luis Martinez said. "We were ready for it. We kept our heads."

Added Phe: "These types of games aren't fun because you have to worry about fights and ejections. I was concerned. It was getting out of hand at the end. The referees made the right choice to stop it."

"I think if we would have played those last few minutes we would have got in a fight," Ceres High striker David Estrada said.

Estrada scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 10th minute. The 2008 VOL MVP put back his own miss from close-range. Marcos Rochas sent the initial pass into the box from the left side.

"I headed it," David said. "The goalie managed to block it. And I got the rebound."

Bulldog goalkeeper Kyle Cerny tallied 13 saves.

Ramon Corona, Victor Corona, Ulises Lua and Rafael Mercado also starred on defense.

"We may have won the game, but we didn't play as well as we should have," Phe said. "I wasn't pleased with our performance. Sierra's one of the toughest teams we've played. They didn't get deflated after we took the lead. They knew what was at stake."

Ceres High swept the season series. defeating Sierra 3-1 in Manteca on Sept. 24. The Timberwolves tied Central Valley twice this year by identical 2-2 scores.

The Bulldog and Hawks will battle on Nov. 3 at Ceres High School (6:30 p.m.).

Central Valley won the 2008 VOL title on the strength of its 1-0 win against Ceres.

"We're not feeling pressure," Estrada said. "We have the talent and players to compete with Central Valley.

"It (the rivalry) brings the best out of both schools," Phe said.