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Luis Martinez couldn't contain his excitement. The junior forward drew a yellow card when he removed his jersey and raced up field in celebration after giving Ceres High's varsity boys soccer team a 1-0 lead against top-seeded River City early in the first half of their Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Stockton's A.G. Spanos Stadium.

Martinez's undershirt read, "We are the champions!

Ninety-plus minutes later, Luis buried his head in his hands and cried while sitting on the artificial turf after the Bulldogs came painstakingly close to making history.

The Capital Valley Conference's top-seeded Raiders defeated Valley Oak League runner-up Ceres High 5-4 in a dramatic penalty-kick shootout after overtime ended with the score tied at 1-1. The two teams battled for 100 minutes.

"I'm really sad," said Luis as tears streamed down his cheeks. "We were hoping to take it all. We really wanted it."

The Bulldogs had a chance to win the shootout in the fifth round. Tied at 3-3, River City goalie Hulises Muro guessed right when he dove to his left to make a save on sophomore Ramon Corona's shot. The ball rolled along the goal line before coming to a stop near the right post.

The Raiders clinched the victory when Ceres High's seventh shooter, sophomore Manuel Villa, fired wide right of the net.

River City missed two of its first four penalty kicks before converting its final three. Bulldog goalie Kyle Cerny stopped Edgar Payan's fourth-round attempt.

"I told them from day one we win together, we lose together," Bulldogs' first-year head coach Koeurn Phe said. "I put no blame on no individual player. It's a learning experience. We'll be back next year."

Ceres High led 1-0 at intermission.

River City's Roberto Carlos Alcala evened score less than 15 minutes into the second half with a close-range goal off a rebound.

"We came out with a lot of determination in the first half," Cerny said. "Our play changed entirely in the second half. We had almost no possession. They were on our half the final 40 minutes."

Two 10-minute periods of overtime were held prior to penalty kicks.

River City, which finished the year with a 23-2-1 record, took home the highly-coveted blue-and-white Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship banner.

Coach Phe and his players posed for a team photo with their second-place plague before heading back to Ceres.

A total of 23 teams from three different conferences vied for the grand prize.

The Bulldogs (15-4-3) have a lot to be proud of despite falling short of their goal.

Ceres High made its first-ever section finals appearance for soccer in school history.

"Overall, it was a good season for us," Martinez said. "I'm pretty happy with how far we got."

"We didn't get lucky," Cerny stated. "We did this. Nobody gave anything to us."

"We were the talk of the town," Phe added. "We surprised a lot of people. Last year, we didn't even make playoffs."