PORTLAND — The boys’ soccer teams from Portland High and Cheverus both had their moments during their annual regular-season meeting, but the biggest moment belonged to the Bulldogs’ Ralph Houanche, who scored the game’s only goal.

Houanche’s unassisted goal came with 21:22 remaining in the first half, giving Portland a 1-0 victory in an SMAA game. It was his second goal of the season.

“The ball came to me outside the 18 and I settled it with my knee,” said Houanche, a Haitian native, who scored his other goal against Biddeford on Sept. 28. “I shot with my right foot and curved it into the upper corner.”

The game had the intensity one would expect from the local rivals. The Bulldogs (8-1-1) held on for the win in a game matching teams headed for the tournament

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” said Portland Coach Rocco Frenzilli. “It’s always a battle with Cheverus.

“We controlled the first half and then hung on in the last 20 minutes Cheverus was pressing, and our guys did a good job covering for one another.

“You couldn’t relax in a game like this. Nick Melville, Elliot Maker and Parker Doyon are three players from Cheverus we had to watch closely.”

The Stags (7-2-1) entered the game ranked fourth in the Heal point standings, while the Bulldogs were sixth.

“This was a good win for us,” said Houanche. “Cheverus is a strong team.

“I think we’re improving as a team. We’re looking forward to the playoffs.”

Last season Portland lost to Scarborough in the Western Class A final. Its only loss this season was to the Red Storm, 3-1 on Sept. 7.

“The SMAA is closely bunched at the top of the rankings,” said Frenzilli.

“But any road to the championship goes through Scarborough.”

The Stags had their best scoring chances in the second half. Doyon touched the ball twice in front of the goal, but shot high both times.

“I thought we competed better in the second half,” said Cheverus Coach Bill LeBlanc. “We had our chances late in the game. Our problem was that we didn’t finish.”

While the Bulldogs were shadowing Cheverus’ trio, the Stags kept close tabs on Portland standout Fazal Nabi.

“We had three defenders at midfield trying to slow him down a little bit,” said LeBlanc.

Nabi got off some hard shots, but none that found the goal. Early in the game, Nabi headed one wide.

Later in the half, Nate Palmer of Cheverus chased down a long lead pass from the opposite wing but couldn’t control it enough to put a strong shot on Portland goalie Taylor Mannix.

Mannix had to leave the game briefly after taking a hard shot while making a sliding save. He was replaced by Barry Quinn.

With Cheverus focused on Nabi, things opened up for Houanche and other Bulldogs. They hoped to capitalized more, but goals are often at a premium when these teams meet.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]