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Hawks, Dawgs complete first half of soccer season
Erica Vieira Ceres soccer
Erica Vieira helped Ceres High’s girls soccer team earn wins against Orestimba, Pacheco, Mountain House and Johansen during the first half of the season. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley’s and Ceres High’s boys and girls soccer programs will begin the second half of the 2022-23 season this week.

Central Valley’s boys team amassed a 9-1-4 record in the preseason and won one of two games during the opening week of Central California Conference play.

“We set our expectations really high at the beginning of the season,” head coach Horatio Garcia said. “I’m really happy with how we started. The players worked hard and it showed every game.”

The Hawks’ 12-game unbeaten streak ended with a 2-1 loss to host Vista del Lago on Dec. 17.

Central Valley beat its first seven opponents.

“To be honest, every single player has contributed immensely to the team,” Garcia said. “Our backup players have stepped up.”

The Hawks collected victories against Ceres High (5-0), Livingston (2-1), Gregori (2-1), Tokay (2-0), Riverbank (3-0), Central of Fresno (2-1), Clovis West (4-1), East Union (3-2) and El Capitan (3-1).

Central Valley tied Livingston (1-1), Turlock (0-0), Pitman (0-0) and Modesto High (2-2).

“We are a possession-based team,” Garcia said. “We don’t play long ball. We have dangerous strikers that can score at any minute. Defensively, we’re very aggressive.”

Ceres High’s boys team compiled a 2-5-1 record in non-league play and had a 1-2-1 mark versus Western Athletic Conference competition.

“I’ve watched film,” assistant coach Ozzie Ramos said. “The growth they’ve had since the first day we started has been amazing. They’re all open to learning. The style we’re trying to play is not easy. They’re all doing a very good job of being open-minded.”

“It’s more than realistic to get into playoffs,” he added. “For the remainder of the season, we’ll treat every game with respect and like it’s a playoff game.”

The Bulldogs notched wins against Orestimba (2-1), Hilmar (5-0) and Johansen (5-0).

Ceres High lost to Central Valley (5-0), Patterson (2-0), Livingston (2-1), Central of Fresno (5-0), Weston Ranch (4-1), Lathrop (4-1) and Beyer (2-1).

The Bulldogs tied Beyer (1-1) and Pacheco (0-0).

“The boys played amazing against Pacheco,” Ramos said. “I thought they deserved a better result.”

Ceres High’s girls team finished 1-2-0 in the preseason and notched three wins, one loss and one tie in WAC action.

“I do like where we’re at,” head coach Hannah Menk said. “We’re doing a better job communicating. We’ve had fewer injuries (compared to last year). My players have gotten stronger.”

The Bulldogs bested Orestimba (3-0), Pacheco (6-0), Mountain House (4-3) and Johansen (6-0).

“We’re on a good roll,” said Menk. “But we haven’t seen every (league) team yet. We have Los Banos and Grace Davis left. Hopefully, we beat the rest of our opponents.”

“I have 100 percent faith in my defense,” she added. “They (Abi Prado and Jessie Blevins) make it hard for people to get past them. We need to capitalize on scoring opportunities. At practice, we’ve focused on finishing. We can’t’ rely on our defense to always save us.”

Ceres High extended its unbeaten streak to four games with a shutout victory versus host Johansen on Dec. 14.

The Bulldogs used a 4-3-3 formation during their recent run of success.

Ceres High’s frontline consists of one striker and two wingers.

“We found the formation that fits our strengths,” Menk said. “We needed another person up top to finish. Another thing that has helped us is we’ve been able to practice more.”

Central Valley’s girls team collected six wins, three losses and one tie in preseason action and dropped its first two conference matches.

“We have a team that is working well together,” head coach Miguel Larrinaga said. “They’re very committed. They want to do well this year. Our goal is to make it to playoffs. We need to get better to compete in the league.”

The Hawks topped Downey (2-1), Ceres High (4-1), Modesto High (4-0), Lathrop (4-0), Hughson (11-1) and Hilmar (3-1).

Central Valley was beaten by Pitman (5-1), Enoch’s (2-1), Manteca (2-0), Golden Valley (1-0) and El Capitan (3-1).

The Hawks tied Central Catholic (1-1).

Central Valley has outscored its opponents, 32-18.

The Hawks allowed just four goals during their six wins. Central Valley notched two shutouts.

“We’ve created so many chances,” Larranaga said. “Multiple girls are stepping up and scoring goals.”