HUNTINGTON BEACH — Maybe next week will be a different story. But in the semifinals of the Marina Tournament, Fountain Valley High had the better boys' soccer team against Newport Harbor.
The Barons (8-2-2) attacked frequently and appeared to be more aggressive than the Sailors (7-4-3). That helped Fountain Valley earn a 1-0 victory against its Sunset League foe Wednesday at Marina.
Senior Ethan Morrow scored his ninth goal of the season on a breakaway run after a great lead pass from junior Derek Huynen 13 minutes into the second half.
The Barons had a handful of other chances to score too, but Morrow's goal proved to be enough against a team that was described as "the walking wounded," by Newport Harbor Coach Juan Mares.
The Sailors were without standout senior forward Brice Manning for the first half. He was kicked in the leg during Newport Harbor's 3-1 win over Santiago in the quarterfinals Wednesday morning, Mares said.
Manning did not appear to be as quick in the second half against the Barons. He scored two goals in two games Tuesday. He had an assist in the victory against Santiago.
In that game, Christian Ochoa, Henry Ramirez and Felix Villavicencio scored a goal each.
Newport Harbor played without senior captain Ethan Murray, who suffered a leg injury in Tuesday's action, Mares said.
Senior goalie Rudy Reyes wasn't at 100%. Hardly any teams played at full strength in Wednesday's semifinals. The teams were playing their fourth game in two days. Even though the games had 35-minute halves, some of the players still appeared spent.
"We played with some energy today which is good, considering this was our fourth game in two days," Fountain Valley Coach Jason Smith said. "I think the kids got up for this one since this is against a Sunset League team."
Newport Harbor will play host to Fountain Valley in its Sunset League opener Wednesday. Mares enjoyed the way his players hung with the Barons, who finished second in the Sunset League last year. The Sailors finished last in the six-team league last season.
They had some scoring opportunities. None came closer than Ochoa's shot with five minutes left. It went just wide left.
"If we were fully loaded I think it would've been a different game," said Mares, who will have the chance to back up that statement next week. "If that's their starting team and we were coming in injured we can definitely hang with them in the league. For us to be a last-place team and they were second, it means we have improved."
Fountain Valley will play in the tournament title game Thursday at 1 p.m. at Marina.
Smith said the Barons picked the right time to play its best game of the tournament against Newport Harbor. Still, he realizes next week's game will be more important.
"The important thing is trying to get fine-tuned at this point and trying to stay healthy," Smith said. "Everyone is banged up. They were banged and we were banged up. You never know what you're going to see. You can see a completely different Newport team in league. We play them next week. That's the important one. It's nice to get to the finals of a tournament, but this was more of a tune-up."