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Owen Duffy as a senior at St. Anthony's (N.Y.) High School.

National Player of the Year Owen Duffy Honored to Be Among Friars' Finest

June 26, 2023
Dylan Butler
Gregory A. Shemitz

It’s one of the greatest rivalries in high school lacrosse. Whenever St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) and Chaminade (N.Y.) meet, it’s an occasion. And it’s where Owen Duffy made one heck of an introduction.

Just after transferring from Westhampton Beach (N.Y.) High School his sophomore year, the attackman’s first game against Chaminade was his fourth as a Friar. He scored seven goals in the 15-11 road win.

“That definitely kind of put my name out there and kind of set the tone,” Duffy said.

Duffy just got better from that point on, raising his level each year to rarified air as a senior. The North Carolina commit is the USA Lacrosse Northeast Boys’ Player of the Year and the National Player of the Year.

“From his sophomore year to junior year, junior year to senior year, you didn’t think he could get better, and he kept getting better,” Friars coach Keith Wieczorek said. “His legs got stronger, his feet got quicker. His shot got better.”

Duffy practically majors in St. Anthony’s lacrosse history. It’s a program that cultivated arguably the best player in the world in Tom Schreiber, who serves on Wieczorek’s coaching staff. There’s also been a pair of Tewaaraton Award winners in Dylan Molloy and Brennan O’Neill and two previous USA Lacrosse Magazine National Players of the Year in O’Neill and Andrew McAdorey.

And Wieczorek said Duffy, who had 43 goals and 35 assists in just 13 games this season to help lead the Friars to a third straight CHSAA title, is “right up there” with the best of the best in his program’s rich history.

“It’s just a huge recognition because just to be put up there and considered in the same conversation with those names, it really does mean a lot,” Duffy said. “It’s kind of a lot of pressure, but at the end of the day, that’s why I went to St. Anthony’s and that’s why I do everything that I do. It really means a lot to be in the same category as those guys.”

What separates Duffy from most, Wieczorek said, is an unmatched drive, which combines with tremendous athleticism and natural leadership.

“He has a really, really competitive chip where if you poke him or you try to shut him down, he’s going to respond with just more tenacity, and he’s just got this intangible grit where he’s not gonna let you define what he’s doing,” he said. “He’s gonna set his own terms and push.”

That’s true in practice, too, so much so Wieczorek said he had to shut Duffy down at times. It’s a trait he shares with McAdorey.

“The good ones know how to complement their teammates and bring the best out of their teammates,” Wieczorek said. “When your best players work the hardest in practice, it’s hard for anybody else to say, ‘I don’t want to do it today.’ Owen and McAdorey had a practice motor that was almost identical to their game motor.”

That competitive drive is something Duffy said he’s had since he could remember, part of his DNA from his father, Bill, who played at St. Anthony’s before Cornell and his mother, Christine, who competed in track and field at Cornell. His older sister Maureen just completed her second season on the Virginia women’s lacrosse team.

“Whether it was lacrosse, football, basketball, I needed to win. It was almost to a fault at times,” Duffy said. “I was the kid who, if he didn’t win, he was crying, he would keep playing until he won, and then everyone else could go home.”

Duffy has done plenty of winning in his three years at St. Anthony’s, especially in those memorable Chaminade showdowns. He had 26 goals and 13 assists in eight meetings across three years, with the Friars winning seven of those games.

“The games against Chaminade are games I’ll never forget. All those guys who have played at the next level, they all come back, and they all say there’s nothing like that game and there’s nothing like that experience,” Duffy said. “I truly feel like those were some of the best times of my life and those are games that I will never forget. And I think being lucky enough to win that championship three times is something I’ll always be grateful for.”

Now Duffy is set for the next chapter of his career. He’ll join some of those former St. Anthony’s greats in the ACC, but not as a teammate at Duke. Instead, Duffy bucked the recent trend and went to Chapel Hill to play for the Tar Heels.

“Obviously, Duke’s a great school. It’s a great program, but I just felt like Carolina was what was best for me and honestly, all those guys, they supported it 100 percent and said that you have to do what’s best for you,” Duffy said.

“I’m super pumped. I mean, honestly, this is kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for. This is what I’ve trained for, this is what everything’s been for. So, I’m just pumped to get down there.”