Ceres High’s and Madera South’s varsity boys soccer teams both rode waves of momentum into the Division-III Northern California Regional Tournament.
The Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III champion Bulldogs had their 16-game unbeaten streak snapped by the Central Section Division-II titlist Madera South Stallions last week.
Sixth-seeded Ceres High lost 2-0 to No. 3 Madera South in the first round on Feb. 26 in Madera.
“It would have been nice to continue playing,” Bulldogs’ third-year coach Danny Barragan said. “But I forgot about it (the loss) real quick.”
Ceres High made history this winter by claiming its second section title.
The Bulldogs posted a program-record 20-2-4 overall record and finished in second place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (11-0-3).
Ceres High outscored its opponents 85-18, including 55-7 in WAC play.
“It was an amazing season. We had everything it took to have a winning team. We had a lot of talent. It was a disciplined group.”Coach Danny Barragan
“It was an amazing season,” Barragan said. “We had everything it took to have a winning team. We had a lot of talent. It was a disciplined group.”
The Stallions tallied both of their goals after intermission.
“We played really well in the first half,” Barragan said. “We had a lot of scoring chances and just couldn’t get the ball in. I wasn’t expecting to lose. It (home-field advantage) definitely benefitted them.”
Madera South (24-5-1) claimed the NorCal Division-III crown with a 4-2 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep-San Francisco on Saturday.
The much-improved Bulldogs had just four wins in each of the past two seasons.
“I’m not really surprised,” Barragan said. “I had a talented group of kids this year. There was a lot of competition at practice. They knew they had to work hard to earn playing time.”
Ceres High will lose five key starters to graduation this spring, including Saul Ruiz, Rafael Guzman, Gustavo Hernandez, Ivan Arita and Leo Trujillo.
“They played a big part in our team’s success,” Barragan said. “They’ll be hard to replace.”