Ceres High’s girls water polo team fell short of its goal this fall.
The Bulldogs amassed a 6-8 record en route to a sixth-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference standings.
Ceres High dropped out of the race for the WAC’s third-and-final postseason spot after losing a pair of matches.
Mountain House and Los Banos eliminated Ceres High from playoff contention.
“It’s a bummer,” head coach Stephen Dias said. “If we would have beat each of those teams once, we would have made it,” he said.
Ceres High dropped its season finale, 11-2, at Grace Davis on Oct. 25.
The Spartans claimed the WAC title with a perfect 14-0 mark.
Grace Davis goalkeeper Lou Triller totaled nine saves.
“We had some opportunities,” Dias said. “But they have a really good goalie.”
“I can see why they’re first,” he added.
Bulldog goalkeeper Arleth Sanchez had 14 blocks.
Ceres High prevented Grace Davis standout Olivia Beebe from making program history.
Beebe scored eight times.
Bulldog freshman Jessie Blevins experienced success while guarding Beebe.
“That’s one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen in a long time,” Dias said. “Jessie shut down their leading scorer. She was two goals away from breaking their school record.”
Freshman Presley Vierra accounted for both of Ceres High’s goals.
The Bulldogs will have high expectations in 2023 as no players will be lost to graduation.
Sanchez, Vierra, Jessie Blevins, Lilly Blevins, Kaylie Clindaniel, Amber Hopwood, Eva Onsurez, Reagan Hensley, Haley Gaskill, Jaylon Pilgrim and Maci Farinha could all return to the team in 2023.
“We’re going to have a really good team next year,” said Dias, who led Ceres High to playoff appearances in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2012. “I think we can take first or second in our league.”
CHS boys improve
Ceres High’s youth-laden boys water polo program finished in last place in the Western Athletic Conference standings this season.
The Bulldogs dropped all 14 of their matches.
Ceres High had the youngest team in the WAC as seven of its players were underclassmen, including Abel Samaniego, Isaac Camorlinga, Eli Farinha, Mateo Gonzalez, Logan Butler, Miles Cabling and Evan Letras.
“My kids never got discouraged,” first-year head coach Derek Wach said. “They had fun. They got better every game. I saw a lot of improvement.”
Ceres High closed out the 2022 season with a 10-7 loss to the Grace Davis Spartans on Oct. 25 in Modesto.
Samaniego led the Bulldogs in scoring as he totaled three goals.
Camorlinga, Farinha, Zion Wesir and Jesus Madrigal all contributed one goal.
Camorlinga and Gonzalez shared goalkeeper duties.
Gonzalez had five blocks.
Camorlinga made one save.
Ceres High outscored Grace Davis 6-3 during the second half.
The Bulldogs trailed 7-1 at the break.
Ceres High will lose just one player to graduation in Wesir.
“It’s been great to see how he’s interacted with kids younger than him,” Wach said. “There was such an age gap. He was a natural leader.”
Samaniego, Camorlinga, Farinha, Gonzalez, Butler, Cabling and Letras all gained valuable experience this fall.
“They really improved,” Wach said. “They know how to play the game more. That’s the biggest thing. They can definitely get bigger, stronger and faster for next season. It will be amazing to see what they can do by the time they’re seniors.”