Ceres High’s boys soccer team won its final game of the 2020-21 season on May 26.
The Bulldogs topped the host Los Banos Tigers 7-3 in Western Athletic Conference South Division play.
“It was a must-win game to finish in first place,” second-year head coach Gilbert Zamora said. “I knew if we played our game, we’d have a chance to win.”
A year removed from placing third in the WAC standings, the Bulldogs claimed the 2020-21 league championship with an 8-1-1 mark.
“After losing 12 seniors, I was a little worried (heading into the season),” Zamora said. “But we had a lot of younger players step up. It was a complete team effort.”
“I’m happy we finished in first place,” he added. “That’s been our goal for the past three years.”
The WAC was split into South and North Divisions this year for COVID-safety reasons and to limit travel for competitions.
Ceres High was grouped with Central Valley, Johansen, Los Banos and Pacheco.
Pacheco (7-2-1, 22 points), Central Valley (4-5-1, 13 points), Johansen (3-6-1, 10 points) and Los Banos (2-6-1, seven points) took second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Playoffs were eliminated for all sports during the 2020-21 academic year due to a late start to the season because of COVID.
“Every year is different,” Zamora said. “I personally think we got tested just one or two times in league this season. We were a step ahead of everybody. We played as a team. We had a lot of communication. We trained hard. That was the difference.”
Sergio Gonzalez scored a game-high three goals during Ceres High’s season finale versus Los Banos.
Diego Ruiz had two goals.
Andrew Hernandez had one goal and one assist.
Gilbert Zamora III had one goal.
Luis Yepez had two assists.
Christopher Vega totaled six saves at goalkeeper.
The Bulldogs lose eight players to graduation, including Hernandez, Yepez, Noe Carreon, David Escobar, Erick Gudino, Sebastian Olide, Gonzalo Rivera and Hassiel Ruiz.
“I’m excited about the future knowing we’re going to have a strong team,” head coach Zamora said.