Curtis Knapton has a knack for assessing his weaknesses as a lacrosse player and working to improve.

As a young player at Westbrook High, he switched from football to cross country in the fall to enhance his cardiovascular strength and foot speed.

After playing attack for three years, Knapton felt his defensive skills weren’t up to snuff. This year as a senior midfielder, he was praised by Westbrook Coach Pete Lyons and opposing coaches as a two-way player.

Knapton didn’t think he was good enough in traffic. But his ability to catch and shoot – with either hand – while being tightly covered became a strength.

“It’s just being competitive, I guess,” Knapton said. “It comes from playing sports all my life and my parents teaching me to be as successful as I can. It’s not measured by accomplishments but by doing everything you can to be your best.”

Knapton scored 47 goals and added 25 assists as the Blue Blazes (10-4) set a school record for victories and won a playoff game for the first time.

He became the first Westbrook lacrosse player to earn All-America honors, topping the state in the voting by coaches, and was named the SMAA’s best player. Knapton is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in boys’ lacrosse.

“While gifted with physical athletic attributes, it’s Curtis’s drive and competitiveness – demonstrated both on game days and every day in practice – that fuel his success,” Lyons said. “He’s a great on-the-ball and team defender. We ran our offense through him (and) he’s a terrific decision maker.”

Knapton, who graduated 10th in his class, will continue playing lacrosse next year at Bates College.

Though he had posted two 40-plus goal seasons at attack, Knapton embraced the position switch this spring.

“I was excited because I’d get to play defense and it would open up the field for other guys. It would just maximize our potential as a team,” Knapton said.

Another key factor in Knapton’s improvement was attending Wednesday night 3-on-3 box lacrosse sessions organized by John Fay, a former All-American at the University of New Hampshire and father of 2013 Telegram Player of the Year Charlie Fay.

“It doesn’t have a name, but every good player in the area is there. You’re playing against older guys, college All-Americans who are bigger and stronger than you, in a small area,” said Knapton, a sturdy 6-foot, 190-pounder. “Being able to play well there and then coming back to 6-on-6 against guys who are not as big and strong and physical gave me confidence, for sure.”

Telegram All-State team

Matthew Beatty, Yarmouth senior, attack: A former midfielder who shifted to attack and quickly became a dual-threat player, Beatty finished with 39 goals and 58 assists in an All-American season.

Ben Ekedahl, Cape Elizabeth junior, defense: A tenacious one-on-one defender who always drew the opposing team’s top offensive threat. Ekedahl also played the wing on faceoffs, and possessed the speed and stick skills to effectively clear the ball.

Jack Fiorini, South Portland senior, midfielder: A two-time All-American, Fiorini used his hard, precise left-handed shot to score 50 goals and also dished out 30 assists. Fiorini will be a preferred walk-on at Syracuse.

Christian Glover, Brunswick junior, long-stick midfielder: The All-America pick turned a typically defensive role into a key part of the offense for the Class A North champion, with 28 goals and 13 assists.

Brendan Hickey, Falmouth sophomore, defense: Hickey handled faceoffs or played the wing on faceoffs while routinely matching up with top scoring threats. Adept with the ball, Hickey scored four goals and had an assist.

Curtis Knapton, Westbrook senior, midfielder: A strong two-way player, Knapton produced 47 goals and 25 assists. He is Westbrook’s first U.S. Lacrosse All-American and was voted player of the year in the SMAA. He will play at Bates College.

Reece Lagerquist, Scarborough sophomore, defense: Tall, strong and athletic, Lagerquist collected 67 ground balls, was poised while clearing the ball, and added two goals and four assists.

Carter Landry, Gorham junior, goalie: Keyed the Rams’ push to the Class A South final, with a .670 save percentage. He showed the ability to make tough saves look routine and was a confident passer when clearing.

Sam Neugebauer, Scarborough junior, attack: Led the multi-faceted Red Storm offense with 62 goals and 13 assists, and picked up 42 ground balls.

Noah Oliver, Westbrook senior, faceoff specialist: Oliver won 78.6 percent of his faceoffs and added 111 ground balls. He also was a top defensive midfielder who had 10 goals and 11 assists.

RJ Sarka, Cape Elizabeth senior, midfielder: A tough two-way player and an All-America pick, Sarka was the calming presence for Cape and its go-to scoring threat, finishing with 35 goals and 15 assists. He also mustered 40 ground balls. He will play at Bates College.

Jack Scribner, Falmouth junior, attack: An All-America pick, Scribner finished with 42 goals and 38 assists, including six goals and six assists in three playoff wins to pace his team to the Class B title.

Coach of the Year

Mike Lebel, Falmouth: Directed a relatively young team that improved steadily and played its best when it counted most, knocking off three-time champ Cape Elizabeth in the regional final with suffocating defense and winning the Class B title with a dominant performance against Yarmouth.