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Productive year for lady Bulldogs water polo team
CHS girls finish second in WAC, qualify for postseason
Emily Campidonica helped lead Ceres Highs varsity girls water polo team to a 14-5 overall record and runner-up finish in the WAC standings. The Bulldogs also qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the second year in a row. - photo by Courier file photo

Head coach Stephen Dias had no complaints following the 14th-seeded Ceres High varsity girls water polo team's 17-3 loss to No. 3 El Capitan in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs on Oct. 31 in Merced.

"I wish we could have won," Dias said. "But I can't walk away upset. My girls gave it their all. They never once gave up. They played with heart."

The Bulldogs played a total of 19 matches this fall.

Ceres High posted a 14-5 overall record and placed second in the Western Athletic Conference (7-2).

The Bulldogs lost twice to WAC-champion Los Banos and Downey, and once to El Capitan.

"I'm very proud of this team," Dias said. "They did an excellent job. They clicked. I wasn't sure what to expect going into the season. Every time they exceeded my expectations, I raised the bar. They were determined to win. I'm so doggone proud of them."

Camryn Silva scored a team-high two goals during the Bulldogs' playoff loss.

Noelia De Leon added one goal.

Ceres High goalkeeper Camryn Elness totaled 12 saves.

The Bulldogs allowed six goals in the first quarter en route to falling behind 13-1 in the opening half.

El Capitan outscored Ceres High 4-2 after intermission.

"El Capitan earned it," Dias said. "They played a great game. Their girls were fast and accurate. Their skills were amazing."

Ceres High secured its second straight playoff berth this fall.

For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs fell one victory shy of claiming their first-ever conference championship.
Los Banos won back-to-back WAC titles.

"We've built a program," Dias said. "We're becoming consistent."

Ceres High will lose seven players to graduation, including, Elness, De Leon, Emily Campidonica, Crystal Piceno, Savannah Zielke, Savannah Jordan and Angelina Colunga.

Elness, De Leon, Campidonica, Piceno and Zielke are starters.

The Bulldogs' top returners next fall will be Silva, Gisele Garcia, Kassandra Armas and Emily Wolff.

"We got to rebuild," Dias said. "We've done it before. Obviously, it's going to take some work. It's going to be a matter of re-structuring and re-teaching. I'm going to keep my expectations where they are."

Ceres High will compete in the revamped WAC next season, along with Los Banos, Pacheco, Patterson, Beyer, Johansen, Grace Davis and Mountain House.