Falmouth goalie Drew Noyes makes a save against Pinkerton Academy of New Hampshire during a preseason game on Saturday. Last year, Noyes posted a rare shutout during a Class A playoff game against Windham.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

What Drew Noyes loves about being a lacrosse goalie is the mind games he can play with shooters. When given the opportunity, the Falmouth High senior will remain perfectly still, holding his stick in front of his body. For a few seconds, Noyes is a granite sentry, demanding the shooter make the first move.

“I love just sitting there and not moving. They look so confused.  They’re trying to read your eyes,” Noyes said.

The boys’ lacrosse season is just under way, and in southern Maine it already looks like 2023 could be the Year of the Goalie. In the two leagues that are home to a majority of the high school lacrosse teams in southern Maine, 12 goalies return who earned some level of all-conference recognition last year.

In the SMAA alone, 10 of the 17 boys’ lacrosse teams return a goalie who earned either all-conference or honorable mention honors last season. Among the top returning netminders in the league are South Portland’s Ben Kieu, who made the Varsity Maine All-State team last season, Noyes, Ian Connors of Gorham, Windham’s Reed Wescott and Ben Kerbel of Scarborough.

Falmouth goalie Drew Noyes passes the ball upfield after making a save during a preseason game against Pinkerton Academy on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

In the Western Maine Conference, North Yarmouth Academy senior Jack Curtis is back after earning first team all-conference status last season. Second-team selection Adam Clough of Freeport is now a senior as well.

“I was a goalie. You’re the last line of defense. You’re the only one who doesn’t have man-to-man responsibilities defensively. With that comes seeing the whole defensive half of the field,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Barton. “He’s got to be a communicator. He’s got to be able to see a lot of different things at once, put defenders in position to succeed, Drew does a great job at that.”


The first Maine Principals’ Association boys’ lacrosse state championship was played in 1998. Twenty-five years later, an improvement in goaltending is the natural evolution of the sport in Maine.

“I think a lot of it comes from coaching, having a lot of guys in the state who are former goalies who are giving back, whether that’s through the club programs or high school programs. We’re lucky here, Sam McKenzie, our (defensive) coordinator is a former goalie at UNE,” said South Portland Coach Dan Hanley.

“Having people who are dedicated to coaching goalies is a huge luxury, and something we haven’t always had in this state. It’s kind of a product of lacrosse growing and allowing for more specialized instruction.”

South Portland goalie Ben Kieu saved 68 percent of the shots he faced last season. Kieu will play lacrosse next year at NCAA Division I Hampton University. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Kieu said he’s got to know some of the other goalies in the area when they attended goaltending camps and clinics. Kieu has developed friendships with Noyes and Wescott, and they often compare notes about how they’re playing.

“Honestly, I just think, especially in my graduation year, we have a bunch of goalies who have always trained together,” said Kieu, a senior who plans to play lacrosse at NCAA Division I Hampton University. “Drew Noyes, Reed Wescott. They’re both really good goalies.”

Last season, Brunswick’s Jake Reeves made two huge saves in the closing seconds to help the Dragons hang on for a 14-13 win over Yarmouth in the Class B state championship game. Reeves said his biggest asset as a goalie is a short memory.


“If you get scored on, you can’t sit there and think about it. They’re going to score,” said Reeves, who plans to play next season at Emerson College.

At 5-foot-8 and 164 pounds, Reeves relies on his footwork and quickness to make saves. At the other end of the spectrum, Kieu is 6-1, 240, and combines his size with speed to leave little open space in the net for shooters to find. Kieu “knows exactly what he’s doing,” Reeves said.

Goalie Ben Kieu practices with his South Portland teammates last week. Red Riots Coach Dan Hanley calls Kieu “fearless. He’s taking shots from a few feet away, and that takes a special kind of mentality. It takes a unique guy to want to do that, for sure.” Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“Ben is just a tremendous shot stopper. He sees the ball really well. He has tremendous hands,” Hanley said. “Not to mention he’s a big kid in there and takes up a lot of net to begin with. And he’s fearless. He’s taking shots from a few feet away, and that takes a special kind of mentality. It takes a unique guy to want to do that, for sure.”

A good save percentage of a high school goalie is 55% to 65%, Barton said. Last season Kieu saved 68% of the shots he faced. At Gorham, Connors saved 70%. A box score only tells you so much about how a goalie played in any given game, Barton said. When Barton and his assistant coaches break down game film, they look for the location of where shots on goals are taken. Shots from 12 to 15 yards out, they expect Noyes to stop.

“Anything else is icing,” Barton said.

In the Class A North championship game last spring, Noyes and Wescott turned in what might be the best single game by a pair of Maine high school goalies. Wescott made 16 saves, and Noyes made 12 to earn a rare lacrosse shutout, 2-0. While his team broke through on Wescott twice, that game was an example of what a good goalie can do to erode an offense’s confidence.

“It makes you double clutch a little bit. If you’re not having a good shooting day, now you’re passing up (shots) you otherwise would put in the back of the net,” Barton said.

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