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Dawgs extend soccer season
CHS soccer secures WACs fourth playoff berth
Adrian Espinoza filled a major role as Ceres High Schools varsity boys soccer team secured the Western Athletic Conferences fourth and final playoff berth. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High School's varsity boys soccer team upset Pacheco 2-1 on Wednesday in Los Banos.

The victory helped the Bulldogs secure the Western Athletic Conference's fourth and final playoff berth.

Ceres High spoiled third-place Pacheco's Senior Day and eliminated crosstown-rival Central Valley from postseason contention as well.

"I had faith in my team," Bulldogs head coach Miguel Saldate said. "They played a great game."

Livingston (10-1-1, 31 points), Patterson (8-2-2, 26 points), Pacheco (8-4-0, 24 points), Ceres High (6-6-0, 18 points), Central Valley (5-7-0, 15 points), El Capitan (3-8-1, 10 points) and Los Banos (0-12-0, 0 points) placed first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the WAC standings.

Ceres High would have had to play a tiebreaker game with Central Valley to determine the WAC's final playoff qualifier had it lost to Pacheco.

Ceres High and Central Valley both earned 3-0 wins against each other this season.

"Our goal was to tie or win," Saldate said while talking about his team's expectations during its second meeting with Pacheco. "We knew it was going to be tough to make the playoffs. It feels good leaving our rivals behind. A lot of the boys are friends. Once the game starts, it's different. It's supposed to be like that."

Ceres High's Adrian Espinoza tallied one goal and one assist against Pacheco.

Juan Castillo collected one goal.

Bulldog goalkeeper Martin Reyes totaled six saves.

Castillo evened the score at 1-1 with a close-range goal in the 50th minute.

Espinoza scored the winning goal from 18 yards out in the 65th minute.

Ceres High trailed 1-0 at halftime.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game," Saldate said. "The kids all did really well. They played their hearts out."

The Bulldogs used four defenders instead of three versus the Panthers.

Jesus Ruiz, Adrian Covarrubias, Gustavo Hernandez and Christian Garcia helped limit Pacheco to just one goal.

The Panthers totaled 44 goals through their first 11 WAC games.

"We used four defenders," Saldate said. "It helped us control the middle of the field."

Ceres High lost 3-0 to Pacheco earlier this year.

"We all wanted to win this game," Saldate said. "There was a lot of pressure. I knew something good was going to happen. We have a good team."

Saldate and his players enjoyed the bus ride home from Los Banos following their upset of Pacheco.

"There was a lot of excitement," Saldate said. "Everyone was happy."