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Falcons eliminate Bulldogs
Tomas Rocha helped lead Ceres Highs varsity boys soccer program to a top-four finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Seeded seventh, Ceres High School's varsity boys soccer team compiled a 2-1 record en route to a top-four finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff tournament.

The Bulldogs lost 3-1 to eventual-champion Christian Brothers in the semifinals on Wednesday in Sacramento. The third-seeded Falcons (15-3-4) defeated Central Valley 3-2 for the title on Saturday.

"I'm disappointed because we didn't get to the finals," Bulldogs head coach Javier Mercado said. "The kids are upset. We fell short of our expectations."

Ceres High challenged Christian Brothers in the opening half as it faced just a 1-0 deficit.

The Falcons outscored the Bulldogs 2-1 after intermission.

"We should have beaten that team," Mercado said. "We dominated the first 30 minutes. You got to give them credit. They counterattacked and it worked for them."

Cristopher Torres accounted for Ceres High's lone goal.

Kristian Heptner, the state's third-leading scorer, tallied two goals for Christian Brothers.

Louis Heinzer had one goal and one assist.

"We knew No. 9 was their best player," Mercado said. "We weren't able to shut him down."

Neither could Central Valley. Six-foot-3 Heptner scored three times, including twice on headers.
The Bulldogs stormed back for a 5-2 win over No. 10 American Canyon in the first round of the playoffs and upset No. 2 Oakdale 3-1 in a penalty-kick shootout during the quarterfinals.

Ceres High captured the 2009 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV crown with a 2-0 win over Central Valley. The Bulldogs lost 5-4 on PKs to River City in the section finals in 2008.

The Bulldogs posted a 13-6-1 overall record, placed second in the WAC (8-3-1) behind Central Valley and advanced to the postseason for the sixth year in a row. "Based on the talent we have, I'm not surprised at all we made it this far," Mercado said. "We had a good team. We wanted to get to the section finals. We would have had a chance to win it."