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Tough draw for CHS girls in soccer playoffs
Ceres High’s girls soccer team February 2023
Ceres High’s girls soccer team compiled an 11-6-1 overall record, placed second in the WAC standings and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs this winter. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Sac-Joaquin Section didn’t do Ceres High School’s girls soccer team any favors when it determined playoff pairings.

The Bulldogs drew the undefeated Woodcreek Timberwolves in the Division-II bracket.

“All of us were shocked,” Ceres High head coach Hannah Menk said. “We thought we’d get to play locally or in Division-III.”

“I guess it was the luck of the draw,” she added. “I was told we got put in a pool and that’s how they selected us.”

The 15th-seeded Bulldogs traveled two hours on Feb. 13 to face the second-seeded Timberwolves in the opening round of the playoffs.

Woodcreek rolled to a 7-0 victory.

“It was a bad matchup,” Menk said. “They were taller and stronger. Our girls gave a valiant effort. It’s one of the hardest games we’ve played. I tried to encourage them.”

Ceres High goalkeeper Lillian Blevins totaled 11 saves in defeat.

“That was one of her top performances of the season,” Menk said.

The Bulldogs lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

“There were no sad tears. The seniors were crying because they were done playing high-school soccer.”

The Bulldogs and Timberwolves entered the game with 11-5-1 and 12-0-1 overall records, respectively.

Ceres High placed second in the Western Athletic Conference (10-3-1), while Woodcreek finished first in the Capital Valley Conference (11-0-1).

WAC-champion/ninth-seeded Beyer drew eighth-seeded Kimball in the first round of the Division-III playoffs. The Bulldogs split with the Patriots during the regular season. 

“I think we could have had success (in the Division-III bracket). We wouldn’t have let in that many goals.”

Ceres High amassed an 11-6-1 overall record and finished in second place in the WAC standings for the second year in a row.

“I’m proud of them,” Menk said. “They’ve grown tremendously as players and people.”

“This is the best team I’ve coached in the three years I’ve been here. They meshed together this season. Stats didn’t matter to them.”

Ceres High will compete with a new-look roster next winter as seven seniors will be lost to graduation, including Camille Clemmer, Natalie Corbin, Kristina Corbin, Giulia Puonzo, Abigayil Prado, Jasmine Ravelo and Erica Vieira.

“They’ll be missed. They were the backbone of the program. They all brought something different to the team. They all played different positions.”

The Bulldogs have won 26 games and participated in the playoffs twice under Menk’s guidance the past three seasons. Ceres High’s win total has increased each year.

The Bulldogs would have qualified for the postseason during Menk’s first year as head coach. But playoffs were canceled due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ceres High compiled a 7-1-1 record en route to a second-place finish in the WAC South.

“We’ve been consistent. “t’s going to be a rebuilding season next year since we’re losing the majority of our players who played.”