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Dawgs' much-improved girls soccer team eliminated from playoff contention
Ceres High School's varsity girls soccer team fell short of its goal.

The Bulldogs lost twice in Western Athletic Conference play this past week and were eliminated from playoff contention.

Fourth-place Ceres High dropped to 5-4-2 in league.

The top three teams in the WAC standings advance to the postseason.

Patterson (10-1), Livingston (9-2-1) and Central Catholic (7-1-3) were awarded berths.

Ceres High and Central Catholic tied twice this year.

"I really believed we were going to make playoffs," said Javier Mercado, first-year head coach of the Bulldogs. "We were so close. We needed to win our last three games. The girls did a very good job this year. We'll have a solid team again next season."

Patterson edged Ceres High 2-1 on April 23 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

"They have the best team in the league," Mercado said. "But they're beatable."

The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 at the break. Bulldog Gisselle Madrigal nearly evened the score from 15 yards out late in the first half. Patterson goalkeeper Monique Garcia made a diving stop with her right hand.

The Tigers increased their lead to 2-0 early in the second half. Ceres High cut the deficit to one goal in the 60th minute when Victoria Andrade converted 30-yard free kick.

The Bulldogs went into attacking mode late in the game. Ceres High's starting lineup consisted of three forwards, five midfielders and two defenders.

Patterson used five defenders.

"They had one forward and pushed everybody else back," Mercado said. "We had to try to tie the game. It didn't matter if we lost 3-1 or 4-1."

Bulldog goalkeeper Dayana Delgado made six saves against the Tigers.

Patterson shut out Ceres High 4-0 earlier this year. The Tigers scored all of their goals during the final 20 minutes.

Bulldog defenders Katya Hernandez and Angelica Slater were sidelined with injuries.

"We had everybody here today," Mercado said. "That's what really made the difference."

Livingston blanked host Ceres High 2-0 on Wednesday.

The Wolves edged the Bulldogs 1-0 on March 26.

Ceres High placed fourth in the WAC for the second year in a row. The Bulldogs went 3-5-2 last season.