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05/27/2023 07:33 AM

Duval Does the Work as Valley Boys’ Lax New Ground Ball Leader

Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team senior captain and defender Leif Duval recently set a new program ground-ball record for cumulative seasons with 210 total, surpassing the previous mark of 199. Photo courtesy of Leif Duval

Even from his days of pee wee soccer, Leif Duval’s parents knew he was meant to make contact on whatever field of play he was a part of–something that is clearly evident many years later in lacrosse as he is a new record-setter in a stat category that defines grit while laying the hits.

Leif is a second-year captain as a senior this year and a defenseman for the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team. He recently passed the Valley ground-ball record for cumulative seasons with 210 total ground balls, surpassing the previous mark of 199. This comes on the heels of a 2022 campaign in which he was nominated as First Team All-Shoreline at defense. Leif has also committed to continuing lacrosse at the NCAA Division II level at North Greenville University in Tigerville South Carolina next year in the Carolinas Conference.

“When I talk to people who do not necessarily know lacrosse that well, I compare ground balls to rebounds in basketball. Whoever controls the ground balls in a game will win it,” says Leif. “My job at my position is to help create offense for the team. It is great to achieve the record and do it really in two and a half years. It is an honor, and I am proud of myself. Once I got to high school, I knew I had to play lacrosse in college and earn a scholarship. I played club travel lacrosse in the summer, which helped get me collegiate recognition. It was the first school I visited, and I loved it. The level of play with their program is awesome.”

Being on the defensive front, Leif knows that typically the only time those of his ilk are on game film is not for glamorous moments. But speaking again to his physical force and nature as a player, he loves to lower the boom whenever the opportunity presents itself.

“You never see defenders in highlights unless they are getting burned by an offensive player,” says Leif. “It can be tough, because you can take the blame for goals allowed. It can also be tough to keep up with the attackers, yet it is satisfying to get the ball back. But there is nothing better than landing a good check and causing a turnover. I love the hitting aspect of the position, even though I am not a violent person at all.”

Leif recalls that he may have hit a growth spurt later than desired, though it made his approach to the turf that much better once he filled out. He adds that through all the ups and downs, he has learned to simply keep an even keel when it comes to maximum effort.

“I grew up as a late bloomer, so I had to learn how to play small, which actually helped me after I got bigger,” Leif says. “Mentally, I just keep my head up and keep my nose to the grindstone. As a captain, I try to keep the positivity going and have the guys keep their noses to the grindstone, whether it be during a tough workout or hot day on the field.”

Valley Head Coach Colby Hawkins explains that Leif asserts himself on the field and in huddles by keeping the boys on task to the team’s targets for the season. He additionally displays leadership and resiliency by battling through personal setbacks and leading the Warriors on the penalty kill.

“Leif has been a positive vocal leader of the team and on the field as defenseman. In our team huddles, he regularly addresses the team to maintain our focus to improve our team play and stay strong through the challenges of game situations,” says Hawkins. “Leif has played through injuries and led our team's defensive performance while working with his teammates to play strong team defense in even and man-down situations. We're confident he will be a great addition to [North Greenville University’s men’s lacrosse] team as a player and leader.”

Leif’s upbringing helped instill in him an added physical durability that cannot be coached. He explains that no matter the malady, including a shoulder injury late last season, he pushes past it all for the love of the sport and more importantly, his mates.

“From a young age, my family taught me the difference between being hurt and injured. They taught me a rub-dirt-on-it mentality,” says Leif. “I know I need to be there for my team; if it means playing through the pain, I’ll do it. it’s worth it all for my team. I know that if I keep my head down, I will be able to push through.”

As Leif looks to graduate college with honors and aspires to be an entrepreneur, he displays great gratitude by noting many of the intangibles to hit those future targets would not be present in him without the presence of his Warriors’ teammates and coaches.

“I would like to make the Dean’s List in college, get my degree, and gain knowledge to start my own business,” Leif says. “Valley lacrosse taught me teamwork and friendship mean everything. You cannot accomplish big goals without others. It also helped me socially; I gained so many friendships that will last a lifetime. It also taught me a lot about heart; we had a tough season this year, but we still showed up every day. Athletically in college, I will be there for my teammates and just leave it all out there.”