OAKDALE Ceres High's Abel Reyes found himself in a very new situation.
Despite being a senior and one of the top goalkeepers in the area, he'd never before played in a high school game that ended in penalty kicks.
So, in the few minutes after the Bulldogs and Oakdale had played through the twin overtime periods of a 2-2 tie, Ceres coach Javier Mercado pulled Reyes aside and gave him a few words of advice.
"I told him all he had to do was block three," Mercado said.
Genius coaching there.
Reyes stopped three of the Mustangs' four shots, while Ceres drilled all three of its chances to send the Bulldogs on to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 soccer championships.
Ceres (13-5-1,) which entered the postseason as the No. 7 seed in Division 3, will travel to Sacramento on Wednesday to meet No. 3 Christian Brothers.
The top seed in the bracket is the Bulldogs' crosstown rival Central Valley, which will host Vanden in the other semifinal.
Oakdale (16-5-5,) as the No. 2 seed, was hoping to make a deep run into the playoffs. But the postseason hasn't been kind to the Mustangs in recent years.
Oakdale won a Division 2 section title in 1994, then claimed three straight Division 3 crowns from 2003-05. It took home a Division 4 banner in 2007, but subsequently had it taken away when it was discovered to have used an ineligible player.
Perhaps it's the curse of having to vacate, but the Mustangs have not won a postseason game since being stripped of the 2007 title.
"We haven't been able to have any success in the playoffs, but that's just the way it is," said Mustangs coach Alfredo Quiroga. "Pressure gets to teams in different ways."
If pressure was all that matters, Oakdale had every right to win this game. The Mustangs' four-forward, high-intensity offense got off 20 shots, but it also played into Ceres' strength as a counter-attacking team.
In fact, Oakdale's offensive style is very much like that of Central Valley, which Ceres gets to play twice a year.
"(Playing Oakdale) is a lot like playing Central Valley," Reyes said. "It's tough to face, but we've played against CV enough so we know how to play when teams go up-tempo on us. You just have to stay solid on defense."
Senior forward Tomas Rocha found the net twice for the Bulldogs, giving them leads of 1-0 and 2-1. But both times Oakdale answered, on second-half goals from Harry Harris and Davis Harper, with the latter forging the 2-2 tie in the 63rd minute.
Neither team had great scoring chances in the overtime, meaning that the end of the season for one of the teams would be marked by a penalty kick.
"We practiced our penalty kicks last week and again this week and the guys right down the line were hitting 10 of 10," Quiroga said. "Not tonight."
Not with Reyes in the net.
"It's just a guess, and you hope they go that way so you can block it," Reyes said. "It's the best feeling an amazing feeling to block one of those."
So, with an all-Ceres Division 3 championship game perhaps only a win away, would Reyes like to end his high school career going against Central Valley?
"I hope they get taken out earlier than the finals," Reyes said. "But if we happen to play them it would be great."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek
High school playoff roundup. Page C-3