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Driven to be great in soccer
Ceres High, Central Valley expect to excel
The Central Valley High School varsity girls soccer programs roster features a mix of veterans and newcomers. Mixtly Vega (7) and six other freshmen players earned spots on the team. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's varsity girls soccer team made history last spring by claiming its first conference title and second playoff berth in program history.

Crosstown-rival Central Valley enjoyed a breakthrough campaign as it secured its first playoff berth and finished second in the league standings.

The Bulldogs and Hawks enter the 2016 season with sky-high expectations.

"I enjoy being in this position," Ceres High head coach Miguel Saldate said. "Everyone is going to want to beat us because we're champions in our league. We want to do the same thing we did last year. If we get the girls to work together like we did last season, we'll do very well. We got the talent."

"The goal this year is to build on what we did last season," Central Valley head coach Cyndi Meshach said. "We're looking to be special."

The Bulldogs' top returning players are Jennifer Cisneros (Sr.), Karina Torrez (Sr.), Cristina Arreola (Jr.), Angelita Cerrillo (Jr.), Dominique Koeurn (Jr.), Breanna Moreno (Jr.), Angelmarie Coral (So.) and Miranda Wilds (So.).

Torrez and Arreola were both selected to the WAC First Team this past spring.

Cerrillo earned second-team all-conference honors.

Karina, Cristina and Ceres High's 2015 defense allowed just nine goals in 12 conference games.

Ceres High's top newcomers are Karina Estrada (Fr.), Gisele Garcia (Fr.), Edith Larranaga (Fr.) and Mariah Trevino (Fr.).

Central Valley also has a solid mix of veterans and newcomers on its rosters.

The Hawks' top returnees are Evelyn Andrade (Sr.), Stephanie Lopez (Sr.), Jacqueline Martinez (Sr.), Nicole Munoz (Sr.), Victoria Castillo (Jr.), Blanca Espinoza (Jr.), Trinity Avila (So.), Mariana Garibay (So.), Emely Lopez (So.) and Laiza Quintero (So.).

Jocelyn Lopez (Fr.), Abigail Martinez (Fr.), Jocelyn Rodriguez (Fr.), Jacquelyn Sanchez (Fr.), Sarah Silva (Fr.), Mixtly Vega (Fr.) and Yesenia Zuniga (Fr.) are new additions to the team.

"We can sub talent for talent," Meshach said. "It's a nice freedom to have."

Andrade, a center midfielder, was selected to the WAC First Team her junior year.

Garibay, a utility player, garnered second-team accolades.

Lopez, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Silva, Vega, Zuniga and Abigail Martinez play competitive soccer year-round.

"We have some talented freshmen," Meshach said. "They know what it's like to win and they like it. They want to be successful. They're quick learners."

Ceres High and Central Valley compiled 9-1-2 and 8-3-1 records, respectively, in the WAC standings a year ago.

The Bulldogs had a 2-0-1 head-to-head record versus the Hawks.

"I believe we have the talent to win league," said Meshach, 2015 WAC Coach of the Year. "We're solid in every position. We just need to stay focused and not get overconfident. That's a huge part of the job. I want to do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen."

"Every year is different," Saldate said. "It's going to be a challenge. We'll have a good team. It will take some time to gel. The girls have to work together. That's the main thing."