PORTLAND – For the past three seasons, Fazal Nabi has been the player to stop in the Portland boys’ soccer team’s lineup.

That hasn’t changed.

But opponents who spend too much time focusing on Nabi will pay a price this season, as the Bulldogs have a number of young forwards who can score.

Four players scored goals Saturday as Portland opened its Western Class A season with a convincing 5-1 win against Thornton Academy at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“I knew I wasn’t going to get the chance to get as close as I wanted to, in shooting range, (so) I tried to get someone else the ball so they can score,” said Nabi, who led the Bulldogs with 12 goals and 18 assists last season. “There are other people who can score, too. It’s just not me.”

Tony Yekah, a freshman forward, scored two goals. Tim Rovnak, a sophomore forward, and Alan Tuyishlime, a junior midfielder, also scored.

Nabi, despite drawing double coverage for much of the game, had a goal and three assists.

“I was marked the whole time,” he said. “I’m trying to get used to it because last year I would have one guy (on me), and this (game) I had two guys on me. I’m trying to work around them, just control myself so I don’t get frustrated.”

Yekah opened the scoring less 10 minutes into in the game by sending a shot from 15 yards past the dive of sophomore goalie Zach Lombard, who did all he could to keep the Trojans in the game during the first 40 minutes.

Lombard made eight of his 12 saves during the first half, when the Bulldogs held a 15-0 edge in shots and a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks. During one scramble in front of the Thornton Academy net, fullback Greg Lodge stepped in and used his left foot and then his body to keep two shots out of the right side of the goal.

With 3:09 left in first half, Rovnak deflected Nabi’s corner kick from the left side inside the near post for 2-0 lead.

“Defensively, our goalie played really well in the first half, but I think he got a little tired mentally in the second half,” Thornton Academy Coach Andrew Carlson said.

The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead during the 53rd minute when Nabi curled a direct kick from about 20 yards to the left of the goal inside the far post.

Less than 10 minutes later, Tuyishime put in a shot from the top of the bubble to make it 4-0.

Portland goalie Taylor Mannix, who didn’t make his first save until the 63rd minute, stopped five shots during the final 16 minutes.

With 9:01 left, Mike Haines, a sophomore forward, spoiled Mannix’s bid for a shutout by using his head to deflect the ball into the right side of the net after Matt Leblanc drilled a direct kick from the midfield stripe.

Yekah’s shot from inside the box went into the net off a defender with 2:20 left to complete the scoring.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]