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Hawks edge Dawgs in highly competitive game
Daniel Ochoa didn't want to play goalkeeper.

Omar Leon, head coach of Central Valley High School's varsity boys soccer team, assigned him to that role against crosstown rival Ceres High on Thursday because starter Gerardo Cazares sustained a hip injury at Oakdale earlier in the week.

The confident sophomore made four saves on his way to posting a shutout in the first half, then tallied the winning goal after moving to his natural position in the Hawks' 1-0 victory at home.

"We all worked hard for it," Ochoa said. "It wasn't just me."

Both teams failed to capitalize on scoring chances until Ochoa delivered the dagger in the 68th minute. The speedy forward collected a pass from midfielder Jose Ramirez and slotted the ball just inside the far left from a difficult angle. Bulldog goalie Kyle Cerny, who totaled nine saves, tried to making a diving stop.

"I pushed up and they got us on a counterattack," Ceres High sweeper/former Hawk Pedro Gomez said. "They took advantage of the mistake."

Added Bulldogs head coach Koeurn Phe: "It was a perfectly placed shot."

Ceres High's best scoring opportunities came in the first half.

Luis Corona was stymied by Ochoa.

David Estrada fired a close-range shot off the right post.

Both defenses shined for most of the game.

Central Valley brothers Bobby and Billy Chanthavong helped shut down Estrada and Bulldog striker Luis Martinez.

Gomez, Victor Corona, Rafael Mercado and Liga Ulisess held Hawk forward Antonio Cabrera scoreless. The senior striker entered the contest with 18 goals and 12 assists.

"I'm very pleased with our performance," Phe said. "It wasn't a blowout. One minor mistake on defense cost us."

"It was very competitive," Ochoa said. "It could have gone either way. I knew it was going to be hard."

The Hawks and Bulldogs finished first and second, respectively, during the first half of the Valley Oak League season.

Central Valley (7-0-1) and Ceres High (6-2-0) will meet again on Nov. 3 at Bulldog Stadium.

The Hawks edged the Bulldogs 1-0 for the conference crown last year.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to be a tough game for them at our house," Gomez said.

Ochoa's goal proved to be the difference last week. He enjoyed celebrating with his teammates and listening to Central Valley's crowd erupt.

"It's special," said Daniel, who finished with his right foot. "It felt great."