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Athletes of the Year: Portland Bulldogs

Sports

Athletes of the Year: Portland Bulldogs

2009 FALL MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

FAZAL NABI, Junior-Soccer

* SMAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year

* SMAA All-Star, first team

* Regional all-star

* Team captain

Fazal Nabi is a second-generation soccer star at Portland High School, but if he keeps it up, he'll soon be the gold standard for the program.

Nabi once again turned heads with his brilliant play this fall, earning co-SMAA Player of the Year honors and still has one more season to build his legend.

In light of his nonpareil talent, ability to meet every challenge and score the big goal and his quiet, yet effective leadership, Fazal Nabi is The Forecaster's selection for Portland's 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year, marking the second successive year he's been chosen.

Nabi was born in Pakistan and came to Portland at the age of four months. His father once played for the national team in Afghanistan and later was a Bulldog and eventually also played at the University of Southern Maine.

Nabi started playing a very young age and was a welcome addition to the Bulldogs' varsity team as a freshman. Soccer is his passion and he plays year-round with the Seacoast U-18 team.

This fall, Nabi helped Portland reach the Western A semifinals for the first time in six years. Along the way, despite facing consistent double- and triple-teams, he had many highlights.

Nabi had three goals in a season-opening win at Thornton Academy, scored a goal and added a pair of assists versus Noble and had the tying goal against Sanford. Two days later, the Bulldogs lost to Gorham to drop to 2-3-2, but Portland owned the second half of the season, winning all seven games.

Not surprisingly, Nabi played a huge role in his team's resurgence, scoring twice versus Biddeford, three times against Cheverus, twice (with three assists) versus Massabesic, twice against Marshwood, then delivered his second goal, which proved to be the difference in a win at South Portland.

In the playoffs, Nabi scored on a header off a corner kick to beat Cheverus in the quarterfinals, then scored on a free kick, but it wasn't enough in a semifinal round loss to eventual champion Scarborough.

Nabi, who also does community service and is a member of Key Club, wants to play at the next level and figures to have plenty of suitors. First, he'll look to lead Portland even deeper in the playoffs as a senior.

It's hard to imagine what he has left to prove, but don't ever write off Fazal Nabi, Portland's 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year. He's truly one of the special players in our midst.

Coach Rocky Frenzilli's Comment: "Fazal commits himself every season to the goals of the team. His individual talent makes us better. He strives to make his teammates better. His integrity, humility, passion for the game, focus on winning and willingness to trust in our system, makes him a pleasure to coach. He is a student of the game. He sees the field better than anyone I've coached and plays the game one or two moves ahead. He brings everyone's game to a higher level. In his three years as a starter, he's responsible for scoring or assisting on 52 percent of our goals."

2008 winner: Fazal Nabi (Soccer)

2007 winner: Matt Methot (Cross country)

2006 winner: Chris Treister (Football)

2005 winner: Josh Wang (Cross country)

2004 winner: Ayalew Taye (Cross country)

2009 FALL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

SOPHIA NAPPI, Senior-Soccer

* Regional all-star

* SMAA all-star, second team

* Team captain

Sophia Nappi's growth as a soccer player was something to behold. Nappi not only became one of the better players in the Southern Maine Activities Association, she's earned the opportunity to play at Coastal Carolina University next year.

This season, Nappi scored several clutch goals, set her teammates up for many others and helped the Bulldogs reach the playoffs once again. Her skill, speed and tenacity stood out enough to impress coaches in her conference and region and also convince The Forecaster to name Sophia Nappi Portland's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year.

Nappi grew up in Portland and started playing soccer at the age of 4. She made the varsity team as a freshman and has been a fixture ever since. She started at fullback her freshman and sophomore years, then moved up to forward as a junior. This season, she played a major role in her team's eight victories.

Nappi had the assist on the winning goal versus Windham, scored in losses to Deering and Biddeford, had a pair of goals in a win over Westbrook and scored two more in a win over Massabesic. Portland gave perennial power Greely everything it could handle in the quarterfinals, but lost 1-0 to end the season.

Nappi finished the year with seven goals and three assists, leading her team in scoring for the second year in a row. She had 19 goals and five assists for her career.

Nappi is a lot more than just a soccer star. She's the president of Students Against Destructive Decisions, is the vice president of Student Council, senior yearbook editor and a member of the school's Executive Board. Nappi also plays premier soccer with Maine Metro and plans to play lacrosse this spring.

Coastal Carolina was her first choice. She plans to major in communications and minor in business or marketing. She knows she'll have to fight for playing time, but feels she's up for the challenge.

We'd have to agree. Sophia Nappi, Portland's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year, was nothing short of tremendous during her time in a Bulldogs' uniform and she's only getting better.

Coach Dave Levasseur's Comment: "Sophia has never stopped working to improve herself as a player. Her hard work has paid off, as she developed into one of the stronger players in southern Maine. She makes those around her better players. She's been an excellent role model for her teammates. She's one of the faster players in the league. She's an intelligent player, has excellent foot skills, is a strong finisher."

2008 winner: Casey Monaghan (Soccer)

2007 winner: Nicole Place (Soccer)

2006 winner: Cilla Knox (Soccer)

2005 winner: Molly Radis (Soccer)

2004 winner: Brianna Shepard (Field hockey)