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A year ago at this time, Owen Duffy was still an undersized attackman who’d yet to start growing into his body.

He showed flashes of greatness playing for the Team 91 Long Island 2023 Bandits, but was still looking for a way to put everything together on a consistent basis. One of the biggest things holding him back was that lack of size and, in turn, the confidence that came with it.

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One came along, the other followed, and now, the St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) X attackman is one of the most feared players in the class of 2023.

Growth During Quarantine

“The quarantine definitely helped me,” Duffy said. “I grew a lot of physically and started working out and training, and it gave me an opportunity to get ahead of some people. I switched from midfield to attack and, with the growth spurt, I became more mature and able to take more checks than I could two years ago.”

Part of that was going through the Bandits’ rigorous practice schedule, one where they often also worked with Team 91’s ’22 Smash team. Both teams are ranked No. 2 in the country by NLFRankings.com, so the idea that iron sharpens iron definitely resonated in those practices.

“I had a couple moments going against Smash guys before the summer really started where I was able to beat guys and score goals,” Duffy said. “Once we started going against them, I was confident that if I could go up against those guys, I could go against anyone.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Bandits coach Joe Spallina, who’s also coached Team 91’s vaunted 2020 Crush team, the nationally-ranked Stony Brook women’s team and been an assistant for Team USA‘s women’s team, is known for running some of the toughest practices around. Water is always at a premium – actually, it’s nonexistent – and Duffy credited those for having a significant impact on his improvement.

“His practices have always been intense growing up, and we’d talk to Crush guys who’d tell us what the practices were like,” Duffy said. “I think we’ve gotten water maybe twice in our entire time, and I don’t think he was at either practice. Without that work, though, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”

For Duffy, that means slotting in as the No. 5 overall prospect and No. 2 attackman in the class in the first NLFRankings.com ’23 class. At 5-10, 170 pounds, he’s still got room to grow, but it’s his shiftiness, vision, IQ and ability to quarterback an offense that’s going to make him one of the most chased-after recruits on 9.1.

QB1 from X

“I kind of feel like a quarterback or a point guard,” Duffy said. “I like to initiate and make the pass to get the offense going, but I can also score on my own if I have to. With the Bandits, it’s wonderful to have guys all over the field that know how to play off-ball. They’re all guys that I can trust when I throw them the ball.”

Duffy’s midfield background also allows him to be comfortable dodging from anywhere on the field, although he’s definitely at home as an X attackman. After transferring to St. Anthony’s from Westhampton Beach, he’ll be eyeing up a starting spot for the Friars, who are once again expected to be among the country’s elite. After that, you’ll find his name sitting atop a lot of schools’ recruiting boards at attack.

“I think he’s great,” one Division I assistant coach said. “He’s two-handed and absolutely ruthless as a dodger, but he sees the field really well at the same time. Attackmen that can beat their guys off the dribble are worth their weight in gold, and that’s what he can do.”

NLFRankings.com Class of ’23 Rankings 

No. 5 Owen Duffy, attack, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Team 91 Long Island
No. 6 Caleb Fyock, goalie, St. John’s (D.C.) / Annapolis Hawks
No. 7 Benn Johnston, midfield, Avon Old Farms (Conn.) / True National
No. 8 Mac Christmas, LSM, Georgetown Prep (Md.) / MadLax DC Dogs
No. 9 Nate Kabiri, attack, Episcopal (Va.) / MadLax DC Dogs
No. 10 Jacob Pacheco, midfield, Boys’ Latin (Md.) / Crabs
11-20
21-30
31-40
41-50
50-61

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