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Mission complete
Rodrigo Palafox's team wouldn't be denied.

The Ceres Earthquakes captured the 2009 US Soccer Club National Cup VIII Modesto Regional Under-14 Boys Premier Championship last week in Ripon.

"When our assistant coach (Ernesto Covarrubias Sr.) passed away in November, the kids made a promise to win a tournament for him," Palafox said. "That was his dream. They were motivated."

Ceres topped the Turlock Tornados Tsunami 3-1 for the title in front of a large crowd on Tuesday, June 16.

Everardo Mercado led the Earthquakes with two goals.

Alex Hernandez scored once for Ceres, which held a 2-1 advantage at halftime.

"The team worked great together," Palafox said.

The Earthquakes advanced to the finals after tallying two wins and one tie in Group B. The Tornados Tsunami amassed a pair of victories and a draw in Group A.

Ceres played all three of its games in Turlock.

Mercado and Heredia both scored three goals, and Hernandez added one during the Earthquakes' 7-1 rout of Casa Boca 94 on Monday, June 15.

The Earthquakes and Thunder battled to a 3-3 tie on Sunday, June 14.

Mercado had two goals.

Heredia scored once.

Ceres edged the MPFC 94 White Strikers 2-1 on Saturday, June 13.

Mercado accounted for both of the Earthquakes' goals.

Palafox relied on all 14 of his players during the Modesto Regional Premier tournament, including Mercado, Heredia, Alex Hernandez, Aldo Hernandez, Alfonso Barajas, Ernesto Covarrubias Jr., Edwin Garcia, Julian Lupercio, Edgar Martinez, Diego Martinez, Antonio Mendoza, Lionel Moreno, Jovany Perez and Martin Rodriguez.

Ceres qualified to compete at Nationals, July 25-28, in Virginia.

The Earthquakes need to raise $20,000 to pay for airfare and hotel accommodations. For more information, contact Imelda Hernandez at 404-8876.

"These kids have been together for four years and haven't won anything until now," Palafox said. "This is a really big deal for them. Their hard work paid off."