Head coach Stephen Dias and Ceres High's varsity girls water polo team ended years of frustration with a 12-9 victory against visiting Los Banos on Oct. 3.
The Bulldogs topped the Tigers for the first time under Dias' direction.
Los Banos won eight straight meetings versus Ceres High from 2012-15.
"We were pretty nervous," said Julia Pata, a four-year standout with the Bulldogs. "As soon as we hit the water, we mellowed out. There was a lot of communication going on. It was good. We're all very excited about the win. Los Banos has been one of the toughest teams in this league for as long as we can remember."
Pata and Kaitlyn Foster both scored a team-high four goals against the Tigers.
Emily Campidonica had two goals.
Noelia de Leon and Camryn Silva chipped in with one goal apiece.
"I knew it was going to be a great game," Dias said. "It was intense. We finally got them."
Visiting Ceres High avoided a major letdown in edging out Livingston 6-5 on Wednesday.
"Having that fear of losing pushed them harder," Dias said. "This game shook them up. I'm glad it happened. They learned their lesson. They got to remember not to relax. Anything can happen."
"It was definitely a reality check for us," Pata added.
Pata tallied a team-high three goals.
Foster scored two goals.
Madison Zamaroni had one goal.
Bulldog goalkeeper Camryn Elness made five saves.
Pata broke a 5-5 tie with 1:30 to play in the game.
"It was still anybody's game at that point," Dias said. "The tension was so high. I thought I was going to hyperventilate."
"Livingston has always been a big rival of ours," Pata said. "They're a rough team. It got to us in the beginning."
First-place Ceres High kept its perfect record intact.
The Bulldogs improved to 12-0 overall and 3-0 in the Western Athletic Conference standings.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised," Pata said. "I could tell we were going to be a really good team the first few weeks of practice. This year, we're more of a team. We communicate and work together. We have a bond that's unbreakable."
"I'm very proud of them," Dias said. "They're doing everything a good team should do. The chemistry is right."
Ceres High participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in program history during Dias' first year at the helm in 2012.
"Right now, it's going to take a lot for us to lose," Pata said. "We got a solid unit. I'm pretty confident we'll stay focused. I think we can achieve it (win the WAC title). That's my dream. That's the way I want to end my senior year. I feel a lot less pressure now. I can count on all of my teammates."
"We got great momentum," Dias said. "It feels great. But we can lose it. I have to remind them they're not invincible. We're in first place. We got to fight to keep it. They all want it."