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Lodi eliminates Ceres from playoffs
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Lodi ended the Ceres High varsity boys water polo team's season on Saturday at Johansen High School. The Flames, the San-Joaquin Athletic Association's No. 1 seed, beat the Bulldogs, the Modesto Metro Conference's No. 3 seed, 14-8 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs.

“We played to the best of our ability,” said Ceres senior defender Markus Richter. “I'm not disappointed. It could have been a lot worse.”

Senior Joey Rossi led the Bulldogs with five goals. Junior Vitaly Polovin scored twice. Sophomore Kevin Fliflet added one goal. Junior goalkeeper Miguel Castillo had nine blocks.

Seven players scored for the Flames.

“Obviously, they're a good team,” said Ceres coach Sonja Raynes. “They had a lot more experience and bigger size.”

The Bulldogs struggled against Lodi's press defense.

“We gave up some easy goals,” Raynes said. “They capitalized on our mistakes.”

The Flames put the game out of reach in the third period. The Bulldogs got within two, 6-4, on goals by Fliflet and Rossi. Lodi extended their lead to 11-4 with five unanswered goals.

“Our bad passes led to counterattacks,” Raynes said.

Each team scored three times in the final period. Rossi had two goals. Polovin scored once.

“We battled back in the fourth quarter,” Raynes said. “That's all pride.”

Ceres trailed 6-2 at halftime. The Bulldogs limited the Flames to just one goal in the opening period.

“We surprised them in the first quarter,” Raynes said. “They didn't expect us to fight that hard.”

Said Rossi: “I'm sad that we didn't win but I'm happy with the way we played. We played really hard. It was a good way to end the season.” - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier