Ceres High varsity girls water polo head coach Stephen Dias had trouble sleeping the night before Monday’s must-win game versus Grace Davis.
“Every hour, I woke up,” he said. “I had indigestion. I had to take Pepto-Bismol. When I woke up in the morning, my tongue was black. My wife looked up what the side effects were for the pills and that was one of them.”
Dias shared the funny story with his players in the pre-match huddle.
“The girls were super nervous,” he said. “I wanted to break the tension. They started laughing.”
Focused on the task at hand, the Bulldogs secured the Western Athletic Conference’s third and final playoff berth by topping the Spartans 11-8 at Downey High School.
Four days earlier, Grace Davis forced the tiebreaker game by edging out the Ceres High 11-9 on the road.
“I knew we could win by the way we beat them the first time. We shouldn’t have lost to them on Thursday.”Coach Stephen Dias
“I knew we could win by the way we beat them the first time,” Dias said. “We shouldn’t have lost to them on Thursday.”
Emily Wolff and Allison McAdams both scored a team-high four goals in propelling the Bulldogs past the Spartans during the third meeting.
Angelique Huerta-Alvarado added three goals.
The Bulldogs struggled to finish the previous contest.
“We spent a good deal of time shooting to the corners at practice,” Dias said.
Grace Davis never recovered after Ceres High’s lead ballooned 10-4 in the third period.
The Bulldogs never trailed.
Ceres High changed its game plan for the win-or-go home contest.
“My girls were dominating the field on each side of the pool,” Dias said. “They knew exactly where they needed to be at all times.”
The Bulldogs dropped two wings back on defense to prevent the Spartans from scoring cheap goals.
“They couldn’t cherry pick this game because my girls were on them,” Dias said. “They were switching opponents and moving around.”
Wolf was also moved from hole-set to driver on offense.
“By putting her outside, they didn’t know who to double team,” Dias said. “It definitely messed them up. They pretty much broke down and got frustrated.”
Ceres High will participate in the playoff for the fifth time—fourth year in a row—under Dias’ guidance.
“I don’t think I can feel any better as a coach,” he said. “I’m so proud of them.”