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The members of Central Valley High School's varsity girls soccer program feasted on fresh fruit and chatted under a blue sunshade between games at the Pitman exhibition tournament on Feb. 27 in Turlock.

Cyndi Meshach, the Hawks' third head coach in three years, stood nearby while fielding questions from a reporter about the upcoming Valley Oak League campaign.

"They're looking forward to having a fun season," Meshach said. "My goal for them is to improve every game. We should do better than last year. They underachieved."

Eleven of Central Valley's 17 players are returners, including Vicky Cajero (D, Sr.), April Hernandez (F, Sr.), Cassandra Martinez (D, Sr.), Stephanie Martinez (D, Sr.), Alejandra Murillo (MF, Sr.), Daisy Avila (D, Jr.), Cristina Dias (MF, Jr.), Carla Martinez (MF, Jr.), Anabel Vazquez (F, Jr.), Lizette Covarrubias (MF, So.) and Simi Talawan (MF, So.).

Vicky, Cassandra, Stephanie, Alejandra, Anabel, Lizette, Carla and Simi started for the Hawks, who posted a 3-16-2 overall record and finished in seventh place in the 2008 VOL standings (3-11). Murillo earned second-team accolades, while Talawan garnered honorable-mention recognition.

Central Valley has six first-year players: Tracee Block (D, Jr.), Evangelina Garcia (F, Sr.), Sandra Hernandez (MF, Sr.), Ashley Lerma (GK, Jr.), Citlalic Marquez (D, Sr.) and Clarissa Ochoa (D, Fr.).

"We were conditioning for five weeks before we could touch the ball," Meshach said. "They're not afraid to work hard. They'll fight to their death. I like that."

"I think we're going to do good compared to last year," Vazquez said. "We have a lot of talent on this team. We have a strong defense. We have a very strong bond. Everybody knows how each other plays. I want to see the team succeed."

Central Valley High School's varsity boys soccer team generated a lot of excitement on campus during the fall sports season by edging crosstown rival Ceres High for the Valley Oak League title and advancing to the Central Valley High School's varsity boys soccer team generated a lot of excitement on campus during the fall sports season by edging crosstown rival Ceres High for the Valley Oak League title and advancing to the semi-final round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

Central Valley's girls squad will try to start its own history of winning.

The Hawks will utilize an offside trap on defense.

"If we're good, our classmates are going to look up to us," Vazquez said. "That's what we want."

"We are full of talent," Meshach said. "We just need to string it together."

Asked if she planned to coach Central Valley for more than one season, Cyndi said: "I didn't take the job to be gone next year. I love soccer."

"It does make a difference," said Vazquez, who's had a different head coach every season. "It's tough but we adapt to how they want us to play."


Phe wants to lead ladies to historic spot

Ceres High's varsity boys soccer team made history under first-year head coach Koeurn Phe's guidance last fall when it posted a 15-4-3 overall record, advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game and finished in second place in the Valley Oak League.

This spring, Phe will try to lead the girls squad to new heights.

The 2008 Bulldogs won a program-record 11 games and finished in sixth place in the VOL standings (5-9).

"I'm hoping to build upon the success Randy Cerny brought to the program," Koeurn said. "I'm optimistic. I wouldn't be surprised if they win half of their games. They may perform better."

Phe awarded roster spots to nine returners and 12 newcomers.

The Bulldogs welcome back Erica Olide (Sr., F), Morgan Welsh (Sr., D/F), Leah Rose (Jr., MF), Nichole Fitch (Jr., GK), Renae VanCleave (Sr., D), Emily Alvarez (Jr., MF), Erica Castrejon (Sr., MF), Maria Ruiz (Sr., MF) and Cheyanne Shinn (Jr., D).

Olide joined the varsity team as a freshman. She'll start for the fourth straight year.

"Our offense revolves around her," Phe said. "She's the best player on the team. She has stamina, speed, power and great foot skills. She has a strong passion for the game."

Newcomers Estafania Hermosillo (So., D), Jesse Basra (So., D), Olivia Moore (So., D), Monica Martinez (So., D), Vanessa Solis (So., MF), Natalia Hermosillo (Jr., D), Daisy Manzo (Jr., D) and Christina Carrillo (Jr., D) suited up for Phe at the JV level a season ago. Estafania was named the team's Most Valuable Player

"She has the potential to lead the team in the future," Koeurn said. "She's a workhorse."

Ceres High also has four other first-year varsity players: Brittany Valadez (Fr., D), Anissa Torres (Fr., D), Christina Deazdeleon (Jr., GK) and Sandra Diaz (Sr., MF).

Phe believes his team will show marked improvement in league despite losing four-year starters Cynthia Gonzalez, Caitlin Cerny and Lizzy Flores to graduation.

The Bulldogs will achieve that goal if they play with the same amount of intensity, passion and energy during each game.

"They feel that beating Central Valley is more important than the season," Phe said. "That contradicts my view. I don't want to put all of my eggs in one basket. We have six other teams to worry about too. I have to get that message to them."

Ceres High will play all of its home games during the evenings at Bulldog Stadium.