Ceres High School's varsity boys water polo team lost at home for the first time in two years this past week.
The reigning Western Athletic Conference champion Bulldogs were beaten 9-8 by Los Banos on Oct. 7.
"The kids aren't too devastated," Ceres High head coach Tracy Bull said. "Last year we lost to them early and came back to win the championship. The only team that can beat Los Banos is us."
Bulldog goalkeeper Sean Carr made a career-high 18 saves versus the Tigers (3-0). The Bulldogs dropped to 2-1 in the WAC standings.
"That's the best I've seen Sean play," Bull said. "We didn't play great defense in front of him. We have to do a better job."
Carr's playing status was questionable leading up to the game.
Sean landed upside down on his head while skateboarding on campus on Friday. The injury required six staples.
"No one would have blamed him if he didn't play," Bull said.
Zachary Jones scored a team-high four goals against Los Banos.
Terry Brogdon had three goals.
Timothy Campbell added one goal.
Ceres High held a slim 4-3 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs managed to score just four times despite having more than a dozen counter opportunities.
"I still think we're the better team," Bull said. "We just didn't play our best. They played really well. They're well-coached."
The Bulldogs trailed 8-7 going into the fourth quarter.
Brogdon accounted for Ceres High's last goal, which evened the score at 8-all.
Los Banos scored what proved to be the winning goal with 3:45 to play.
The Tigers shut out the Bulldogs the rest of the way. Ceres High attempted three shots in the final 30 seconds, including two by Campbell. Los Banos' goalkeeper made a lunging save on Timothy's first shot. The ball deflected off his fingertips and caromed off the post. Campbell rushed his put-back attempt.
"It's the first time we've been held under 10 goals at home in two years," Bull said. "We play better here because of the narrowness of our pool and we can play zone defense. Their goalie was phenomenal. Both goalies played great."
The Tigers snapped Ceres High's six-match winning streak dating back to last season. The Bulldogs have won 9 of their last 11 games.
Ceres High compiled a 1-1 record against Los Banos in 2012.
"It was a great exhibition of high school water polo," Bull said. "It was an exciting game for everybody. That's the only team that's beat us in the last two years."
Ceres High will play at Pacheco today at 5 p.m. Pacheco beat Los Banos twice a year ago.
"The road to winning (the WAC title) is harder," Bull said. "It's time to get back to work."