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Hawks, Dawgs cap off winter with soccer playoff appearances
• CV, CHS will compete in same league next season
Central Valley’s girls soccer team  feb 28 2024
Central Valley’s girls soccer team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs and finished in third place in the CCC this winter.

Central Valley’s and Ceres High’s girls soccer teams capped off the 2023-24 season with playoff appearances earlier this month.

Competing in Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I tournament for the first time, the 14th-seeded Hawks fell short in their upset bid in losing 1-0 on the road to the third-seeded Davis Sr. High Blue Devils on Feb. 10.

“It was a good game,” head coach Miguel Larranaga said. “The girls played well. They proved we have a good team.”

 “We competed like that the whole season,” he added. “No team dominated us.”

Central Valley goalkeeper Magnolia Tavizon totaled two saves against Davis Sr. High.

The Blue Devils scored what proved to be the winning goal with 20 minutes to play.

“It was a 50-50 game for a long time,” Larranaga said. “Defensively, we played very well. We had chances to score and didn’t put it in.”

Central Valley amassed an 11-11-2 overall record and finished in third place in the Central California Conference standings with a 7-3-2 mark this winter.

Davis Sr. High, which improved to 12-1-3 on the year, placed second in the Delta League (9-1-2).

The Hawks secured a playoff berth, their first in three years, during the final day of the regular season.  Central Valley prevented Patterson from winning the CCC title with a 1-1 tie.

The Hawks managed to qualify for the postseason despite having to forfeit seven games for inadvertently violating a CIF rule. 

“I’m proud of them,” Larranaga said. “We had a good season. I’m so happy they made it to playoffs.”

The Hawks will lose seven players to graduation, including Isabella Barajas, Viviana Flores, Isabella Gudino, Giselle Hernandez, Niome McMurray, Aundrea Perez and Daniela Rodriguez.

“They’ve been a big part of the program,” Larranaga said. “They’re amazing players. They’re very respectful. We’re going to miss them.”

Central Valley will return a handful of players from this year’s team next winter, including Aaralyn Jauregui. The freshman striker led the Hawks in scoring with 27 goals and ranked second in assists with seven.

The Hawks will move from the CCC to the Western Athletic Conference as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s league realignment plan.

The new-look WAC will feature eight teams: Central Valley, Ceres High, Livingston, Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Pacheco.

The Bulldogs appeared headed for a losing season this winter before experiencing a major turnaround.

Ceres High managed to qualify for the playoffs despite struggling during the first half WAC play.

“For everything we went through, I’m satisfied,” said Bulldogs’ first-year head coach Rudy Jimenez. “I’m glad me made playoffs. The girls did great this year.”

Fifteenth-seeded Ceres High lost 6-2 to second-seeded Oakdale in the opening round of the Division-III playoff bracket on Feb. 10.

The Mustangs advanced to the section title game.

Oakdale (18-7-3, 6-2-2) finished first in the Valley Oak Leagued during the regular season.

“Knowing what I know now, we’d be better prepared,” Jimenez said. “We got outplayed. They’re really good. They’re like a travel team.”

Ceres High’s Marissa Renteria and Arianna Diaz both scored once goal against Oakdale.

Bulldog goalkeeper Lily Blevins totaled 12 saves.

Ceres High trailed 3-1 at intermission.

The Bulldogs were outscored 3-1 in the second half.

“They girls played hard. They never gave up. We didn’t get shut out, which is nice.”

Ceres High compiled a 12-10-1 overall record and finished in third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings with an 8-5-1 mark.

The Bulldogs climbed from eighth to third in the WAC after winning eight of its final nine league games.

Ceres High would have had a more favorable draw in the playoffs had it not struggled during the first half of league play due to a thin roster.

The Bulldogs secured their third straight playoff berth this year, including first under Jimenez’s guidance.

“If we would have started the season off right in the beginning, we would have had a better seed (for playoffs),” Jimenez said. “We would have had a better chance at winning.”

Ceres High will vie for its fourth consecutive postseason berth next winter.

“Now, we’re starting over. I’m looking forward to next year.”

The Bulldogs will compete with a new-look lineup as 11 players will be lost to graduation, including Renteria, Diaz, Lily Blevins, Analiz Angulo, Bianca Camorlinga, Leliah Elsumeri, Isla Hore, Jocelin Lopez, Ariela Roman, Kaylee Rodriguez and Natalie Sanchez will be lost to graduation.

“They were definitely a key to the team’s success. Everyone one of them had some sort of role. Marissa, Arianna and Lily had bigger roles.”

Jessie Blevins, Stephanie Lizola, Melanie Lopez, Braidynn Mott, Evelyn Navarro, Alyssa Santillanes, Itzel Torrez, Giselle Zamora and Mariah Zamora could return to the team in 2024-25.

“The girls had a season of playing together. “hey got to know each other. That will help moving forward. I have big hopes for next season. I think we’ll do just as good if not better. It all comes down to who’s on the team. I want to make sure the players I choose are committed.”

Ceres High’s girls soccer team feb 28 2024
Ceres High’s girls soccer team posted a 12-10-1 overall record, placed third in the WAC and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. - photo by Contributed to the Courier