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No. 1 Santa Ana Falls to Fountain Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Santa Ana assistant coach Sal Lopez tried to downplay his top-ranked team and its 3-1 loss Friday to Fountain Valley. But Fountain Valley Coach Kevin Smith was having none of it.

“I think they’re as good as they’ve been,” Smith said. “They might not be as deep as they’ve been, but I couldn’t tell where their weakness was.”

Actually, on Friday, it was in goal, but that’s mainly because Lopez is tinkering with his lineup while he prepares for league play. Jose Hernandez, who has been mainly a basketball player until this year, gave up three second-half goals after starter Danny Morales shut out Fountain Valley in the first half.

"[Hernandez] has the potential to be good, but he’s learning right now,” Lopez said. “I’ve got to try stuff like this before league starts. That’s what matters. This doesn’t matter to me.”

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It did to ninth-ranked Fountain Valley (5-2-1), which kept up a home unbeaten streak against Santa Ana during Smith’s seven-year tenure.

“I don’t know what it is but we always seem to play well against them,” Smith said.

Ryan Futagaki, who scored the Barons’ go-ahead goal on a free kick in the 61st minute, took his team’s victory seriously.

“This was big,” said Futagaki, who sprinted halfway down the field with his arms up after beating Hernandez with a skimmer in the right corner. “These guys have a good team every year.”

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Santa Ana led, 1-0, on Mario Gonzalez’s header two minutes into the second half but Nick Tolman answered five minutes later with a rebound of a Sean McFarland blast that ricocheted off the post. Fountain Valley made it 3-1 in the 76th minute when Aaron Carter headed in a corner from Edmund Danyal.

Santa Ana (5-2) did not lose a regular-season game last year but the Saints lost for the second time this week. They were beaten by Woodbridge on Monday.

“Honestly, I don’t know why we’re ranked No. 1,” said Lopez, who is filling in for ailing Manny Penaflor. “We lost seven seniors last year. We’re not that good right now.”

Smith would beg to differ.

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