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Ruiz garners honors for defense
WAC coaches reward Bulldogs
Three members of Ceres Highs varsity boys soccer team were recognized during the WAC year-end coaches meeting. Christian Martinez (pictured) earned second-team accolades. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Saul Ruiz's superb play earned him a major honor.

The Ceres High varsity boys soccer standout was voted co-Defender of the Year during the Western Athletic Conference year-end coaches' meeting on Feb. 15 in Hilmar.

"He deserved it," Bulldogs' head coach Danny Barragan said. "He stood out compared to other guys."

Ruiz, a junior center defender, was recognized for his fearless play on the pitch.

He shared the award with Pacheco's Alfonso Lopez.

Saul helped the Bulldogs secure a pair of 1-1 ties with WAC-champion Pacheco, a 1-1 draw against second-place Livingston and a 2-0 win over Los Banos.

"His attitude is great," Barragan said. "He never backs down. When it comes to playing hard, it's not a problem for him. He would make guys fly when it came to using his body. He's a guy I trust."

Ruiz could be in the running for WAC MVP next winter if Ceres High performs better as a team.

"It's a possibility," Barragan said.

Bulldog teammates Christian Martinez and Freddi Lopez were both selected to the WAC Second Team.

Martinez, a senior middle forward, led the Bulldogs in scoring.

Christian was also a team captain.

"He was our best all-round player,' Barragan said. "He had good leadership skills. I wish I had more players like him."

Martinez did not play soccer in 2017.

Christian competed at the junior-varsity level as a sophomore and freshman.

"I had him freshmen year when I coached JV," Barragan said. "I knew he had talent. He wanted to be the best."

A backup goalkeeper at the varsity level as a sophomore, Freddi earned the starting position this season.

Lopez replaced 2017 first-team all-conference selection Erik Martinez, who transferred to crosstown-rival Central Valley.

"We didn't have the greatest season but he saved us a lot," Barragan said. "He was always in the right spot. He really stepped up. He surprised me and everyone else."

Ceres High (2-5-3) finished fifth overall in the WAC standings.

Pacheco (6-0-4), Livingston (5-1-4), Central Valley (5-3-2) and Patterson (5-4-1) placed first, second, third and fourth.

Los Banos (0-10-0) was last.