Cristopher Torres took a moment to address his Ceres High varsity boys soccer teammates following Wednesday's crosstown showdown with Central Valley.
"Thanks for not giving up," Cristopher said while struggling to fight back tears.
Torres' goal late in the second half helped the host Bulldogs salvage a 2-2 tie with the Hawks on Senior Night.
"We played hard until the last whistle," he said.
Third-place Ceres High moved to 11-2-5 overall and 6-3-2 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Second-place Central Valley moved to 13-1-7 and 6-0-4.
The Hawks squandered a two-goals-to-none lead while tying Livingston 2-2 on Oct. 20.
"It's the same frustration again," Central Valley head coach Omar Leon said. "We should have won."
Torres and Adrian Espinoza both scored for the Bulldogs.
Ceres High goalkeeper Martin Reyes made 12 saves.
Giovanni Avalos and Angel Aguilar both scored for the Hawks.
Robert Perez collected one assist.
Central Valley goalie Ramon Ruiz totaled six saves.
Central Valley appeared headed for a blowout win before Ceres High rallied.
The Bulldogs battled back from a 2-0 halftime deficit.
"I knew if we were going to come back, it was going to take a lot," Torres said. "We talked and controlled the ball more. We showed a lot of heart. I'm very proud of my team."
"They were winning every 50-50 ball," Leon said. "We didn't stay concentrated. Some of our players were getting nervous."
Espinoza cut the deficit to 2-1 and Torres evened the score.
"I controlled the ball and shot to the far post," Cristopher said. "From my angle, I couldn't see because the defender was blocking me. As soon as I saw the net move, I knew I scored."
Avalos gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
Giovanni scored from close-range off Robert's cross pass.
Aguilar accounted for Central Valley's second goal.
"We thought we had the game," Angel said.
The Bulldogs and Hawks battled to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 29 at Central Valley.
"We've tied twice this year," Leon said. "We tied once last year. It's gotten close and competitive the last three years."
"I'm not that surprised," Aguilar said. "We both have good players."