Santa Ana Valley loses again to Paramount


SANTA ANA – Miguel Mercado is more of a basketball player and might not have been in goal for the Paramount boys soccer game had the Pirates’ other keeper not been suffering from a burst appendix.

Monday’s nonleague game was the third time that he has played for Paramount. That might change, however, after his performance during a furious few seconds that sealed a 1-0 victory against rival Santa Ana Valley.

Mercado was the first player that Paramount coach Rafa Villasenor walked up to after the game, greeting him with a big bear hug.

“He did a heck of a job for us. He has been a great asset for us as you can see,” Villasenor said. “His height and presence both help a lot.”

In the 71st minute Victor Flores fired a line drive at Mercado from right around the penalty spot. Mercado knocked it away, but the ball went right to Miguel Ayala in the 6-yard. With one tough, Ayala launched another hard shot at Mercado. But it ended up being Mercado’s fourth and final save of the game.

The Pirates (3-1-2) have now won their last four meetings against the Falcons (3-4-3); three of them have come in the CIF playoffs. It also avenges the Pirates’ 2008 loss to Valley in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division 3 playoffs, which was the last time the Falcons beat Paramount.

“Some of the seniors on the team know the history,” Santa Ana Valley coach Jose Sanchez said. “I don’t know what it is (why Santa Ana Valley can’t beat Paramount). But as long as we can learn things, and I think that we picked up a few things that we can work on ... Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”

The Pirates couldn’t say that after Monday’s game. In the 46th minute, Santa Ana Valley’s keeper Alfredo Gonzalez ran to his right to stop a Paramount shot, but before he could get to the ball, it bounced off the post, rolled right in front of the goal to Kevin Alvardo, who knocked the ball into the empty net.

Two Santa Ana Valley shot hit the post, too, first during a counter attack when Ercik Basquez took a shot from the top of the box, and then when Jorge Herrera took a penalty kick in the second half.

But Valley had other chances to score besides that. In the 64th minute Victor Bravo got behind the Pirates back line and came into the area alone, but before he could get off a shot Arturo Gonzales made a clean tackle and the Pirates cleared the ball.

“We are getting better. We have made a couple of changes on the field, but we are still struggling to score goals,” Sanchez said. “This is hard because I can see that they are down. But we are playing much better now. We are getting there.”

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