Ceres High School's varsity boys water polo team clinched its third straight playoff berth with an 11-10 win over 2013 Western Athletic Conference champion Los Banos on Thursday in Ceres.
"We carry that burden," said Bulldogs head coach Tracy Bull, whose program has qualified for the postseason four times in the last five years. "In the fall, it's just us and boys soccer."
Second-place Ceres High improved to 5-2 in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Tigers dropped to 2-4 in the WAC standings.
Ceres High edged Los Banos 10-8 earlier this season.
Los Banos beat Ceres High twice en route to claiming the 2013 WAC championship.
"They always play us really tough," Bull said.
Zachary Jones tallied a game-high seven goals against Los Banos last week.
Logan Kier added two goals.
Cole Silva and Bobby Baranski both scored once.
Sean Carr totaled nine blocks.
"It was a game we had to have," Bull said.
Ceres High held a slim 9-7 lead at the end of the third period.
Both teams scored four goals in the opening half.
"It was a very competitive," Bull said. "The last minute and a half was very nerve racking."
Gauchos 19, Bulldogs 5
Ceres High lost 19-5 at undefeated El Capitan on Oct. 21 in Merced.
The Gauchos defeated the Bulldogs 14-10 in Ceres on Sept. 25.
"We haven't taken a beating like that since we lost to Oakdale three years ago," Bull said. "We don't have any excuses. They kicked our butt. We got outplayed and outcoached. They were just better."
Jones was limited to just two goals.
Tim Campbell also scored twice.
Erik Weststeyn had one goal.
Carr accumulated 10 saves.
Ceres High took only two shots inside five meters.
The Gauchos outscored the Bulldogs 6-1 in the first period. El Capitan accounted for the game's first five goals.
Ceres High trailed 14-4 at the end of the third period.
"The first time we played them, we led late in the third quarter before losing," Bull said. "They passed the ball really well today. They were proficient. They smothered us on defense. He (Jones) was double-teamed all day."
The Bulldogs have qualified for the playoffs four times since 2010.
Ceres High's amassed an 18-5 record the last three years in WAC play.
"We're very talented," Bull said.