Portland Bulldogs Fall Athletes of the Year

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FALL 2010 MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

FAZAL NABI, Senior-Soccer

* All-New England

* All-State

* SMAA Offensive Player of the Year

* Western A regional all-star

* SMAA all-star, first team

* Senior All-Star

* Team captain

Even though all eyes were on him for 80 minutes a night, Fazal Nabi once again produced a command performance this fall.

If double- or triple-team defense managed to keep him from scoring, Nabi had no trouble setting up his teammates and as a result, the Portland boys’ soccer team enjoyed its best season this century.

Due to Nabi’s skill and leadership, the Bulldogs simply got better and better as the season progressed and they wound up playing for the state title for the first time since 1994. Not a bad way to cap one of the more storied careers in recent memories.

For being at his best game after game, for scoring clutch goals and just as importantly, putting his teammates in a position to shine, and for living up to his immense billing while leading his team to excellence, Fazal Nabi is The Forecaster’s choice for Portland’s Fall 2010 Male Athlete of the Year, marking the third year in a row he has won the award.

Nabi was born in Pakistan and came to Portland at the age of four months. His father played at Portland High for a year, but Nabi managed to star for four. After super sophomore and junior campaigns and some great success playing in an overseas tournament this summer, he made his senior season something special.

Nabi had a goal and an assist in a season-opening win over Thornton Academy, but a loss to two-time defending state champion Scarborough and a tie at Windham followed, leaving the Bulldogs 1-1-1 and at a crossroads.

Instead of self-destructing, however, Portland proved the preseason pundits right and became the team to beat in Western A, closing the year on an 11-game winning streak.

Throughout, Nabi made his presence known. He had a goal and three assists versus Noble, two goals in a come-from-behind win at rival Deering, the winning goal against Sanford, four goals versus Massabesic, two against Marshwood, two goals and an assist in a win over South Portland and three more in the finale, a 5-0 blanking of Bonny Eagle.

The Bulldogs earned the No. 2 seed for the playoffs and promptly dispatched city rival Cheverus, 6-0, in the quarterfinals, behind a goal and two assists from Nabi. Portland appeared doomed in the semis, trailing visiting Cape Elizabeth late and when Nabi was denied on a penalty kick, all appeared lost. He would get one more chance in the 67th minute and buried a shot which forced OT (the Bulldogs would go on and prevail). After beating Gorham in the regional final, Portland met Bangor in the state championship game. The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the first half, but saw the Rams rally to go up, 3-2. Nabi and had teammates had chances the rest of the way, but couldn’t answer and Portland’s remarkable campaign ended in agony.

The sting didn’t last long for Nabi who received multiple all-star recognitions. He was named a league all-star for the fourth time, a regional all-star for the third year in a row and the SMAA’s Offensive Player of the Year for the third straight time. He finished with 20 goals and 20 assists, giving him 108 points in his four seasons, more than half of the Bulldogs’ production in that span.

Nabi plays for the Seacoast United U-18 team, belongs to the Key Club and National Honor Society and does community service. He has committed to Providence College to play soccer for a program which reached the Big East Final this year. He expresses an interest in engineering and computer science.

A player for the ages has played his last game in blue and white, but his legend will live on. Fazal Nabi, Portland’s Fall 2010 Male Athlete of the Year, redefined dominance and grace as one of the premier players in the state.

Coach Rocky Frenzilli’s Comment: “Fazal has been a joy to be around. He made a commitment to make everyone around him better. He’s passionate about the game and just as much about his teammates and the success of the team. As he grows, his game grows. He’s gone from a talented player to a very, very, very talented player. He’s gotten better making decisions under pressure. He always knew when to kick, pass and shoot. He has a great, positive attitude.”

2009 winner: Fazal Nabi (Soccer)

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)

2010 FALL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

EFFIE DREW, Senior-Field hockey

* Captain

* All-State

* SMAA All-Star, first team

Portland’s field hockey team showed tremendous growth in 2010. The Bulldogs improved from one win to six and barely missed the playoffs. Senior Effie Drew played a key role in Portland’s ascendance, excelling on the field, leading by example and showing that hard work pays off.

In light of those attributes, The Forecaster is selecting Effie Drew as Portland’s Fall 2010 Female Athlete of the Year.

Drew grew up in Portland and started playing field hockey in sixth grade. She became a member of the Bulldogs varsity as a sophomore and was a force this fall at center-mid and center-forward.

Drew assisted the winning overtime goal at Windham, scored three times in a win over rival Deering and had two goals versus Biddeford, Her poise and leadership made the whole team better and Portland’s confidence grew as the season went on. Had the Bulldogs made the playoffs, they would have been a team no one wished to face.

“I saw a chemistry change during the summer,” said Drew. “It was an attitude switch. We wanted to be competitive. We fed off each other’s energy. Everyone was on the same page.”

Drew is in her second year with the Katahdin premier team, plays center on the ice hockey team and attack in the spring on the lacrosse squad. She’s also much more than just an athlete, belonging to the school’s Executive Board, Peer Mediation and Project Graduation, in addition to National Honor Society.

Drew hopes to play in college and is considering St. Mary’s in Halifax, Canada. She’s interested in studying business.

Whatever her next step brings, it’s likely to be filled with success. Effie Drew, Portland’s Fall 2010 Female Athlete of the Year, helped turn a program around by doing a lot of things the right way.

Coach Beth Arsenault’s Comment: “Effie has been a great contributor for us as a team and as a program. Her hard work has paid off in a number of ways. A big one is obviously that we won six games as opposed to last year’s one. Individually, she was named to the SMAA first team and named all-state, which is nearly impossible for a player from a non-playoff team. The coaches vote and they recognized her skill and effort. I couldn’t be happier for her personally. I love the role modeling she’s provided and the precedent she’s set for her teammates.”

2009 winner: Sophia Nappi (Soccer)

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)

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.