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Dawgs strive for soccer playoffs
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Ceres High School's varsity girls soccer team boosted its playoff hopes with a 3-0 win over host Los Banos on Monday, April 16.

The Bulldogs swept the Western Athletic Conference season series, 2-0. Ceres High won the first meeting, 5-1, on March 17.

Fourth-place Ceres High, which guaranteed itself a non-losing season with its performance last week, improved to 5-2-2 in league.

The top three teams in the WAC qualify for the postseason.

Ceres High trails Patterson (7-1-0), Livingston (7-2) and Central Catholic (6-1-2) in the conference standings. The Bulldogs had three games remaining on their WAC schedule as of Sunday.

"This is where I thought we'd be at this point," Ceres High head coach Javier Mercado said. "The girls believe in themselves and always put in a lot of hard work. As long as our defense is healthy, we'll have a good shot at making playoffs."

Fabiana Soto, one of the Bulldogs' four team captains, scored twice on six shot attempts this past week against fifth-place Los Banos (1-7-1).

Karina Manzo had one goal.

Ceres High goalkeeper Dayana Delgado totaled five saves.

"Fabiana's usually one of my midfielders," Mercado said. "With Laura Barajas being out, I switched her to forward because she has really good speed."

Soto gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the opening half.

Ceres High outscored Los Banos 2-0 after intermission. Fabiana and Karina accounted for both of the Bulldogs' goals.

Ceres took 15 shots during the game. "It was competitive for the first 30 minutes," Mercado said. "After that, it was one-sided."

The Bulldogs play twice at home this week. Ceres High faced Patterson on Monday and will battle Livingston on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs close out the WAC season versus crosstown-rival Central Valley on April 30 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

"Every game is important," Mercado said. "If we win all three, we make it to playoffs. We don't have to depend on anyone else."