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Duncan Rider quickly became a top offensive player for the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team as a freshman last year. Duncan broke the Warriors’ record for most points scored by a freshman and also led the Shoreline Conference in scoring. (Photo courtesy of Duncan Rider )
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Duncan Rider made a great impression in his first season as a member of the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse squad. Playing on the attack, Duncan not only led the Warriors in points scored as a freshman last year, he also set the record for the most points by a freshman in program history. On top of that, Duncan led the Shoreline Conference in scoring on his way to earning All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors. Now a sophomore, Duncan was aiming to continue his torrid pace in 2020, but unfortunately, the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Duncan netted 60 goals to go with 26 assists on his way to breaking Valley’s freshman scoring record with 86 points. Coincidentally, the player who had previously held that record is Duncan’s brother Brad. Taking that title was a big accomplishment for Duncan.
“My brother set the record for most points. That felt nice to beat him by a little bit, because we are so competitive with each other,” says Duncan. “My brother had 81 points, and I had 86.”
Duncan wound up winning Valley’s Offense Player of the Year Award last year. As he enjoyed success as a freshman, Duncan was also helping Valley put together a nice season. The Warriors posted a regular-season record of 8-8 on their way to qualifying for the Class S State Tournament in 2019. Although Valley was unable to claim any titles, Duncan still feels proud about what the squad accomplished.
“We didn’t make Shorelines, but making states was a pretty big accomplishment,” Duncan says. “We got knocked out in the first round by a very good team [East Catholic], but I think making states was a big thing for our team.”
Duncan attributes much of last year’s performance to his abilities with a lacrosse stick. Duncan also gets to work on his stick skills, albeit in a different fashion, as a member of the Valley co-op boys’ ice hockey team.
“I think I have very good stick skills. I think hockey has helped me with that,” says Duncan. “My best quality is that I have very good vision. I can see the field really well. That helps me make good passes that lead to assists. I can also make off-ball or on-ball plays that lead to other stuff.”
Duncan plays lacrosse during the offseason as a member of the Eclipse Lacrosse Club in Darien. Duncan is a defensive midfielder with the Eclipse, and he feels that experience has helped him become a more well-rounded player.
“For high school, I play attack, but for my travel club, I actually play defensive middie. I think being an offensive player helps translate as a defensive player, and it helps me think about what the opposition is doing,” Duncan says. “If the offense is going to take a cut, I can predict and read it. It works on the other side, too. I can tell if someone is going to slide or isolate one player. It makes it easy for me to read both sides of the field.”
Duncan believes that the guidance of Head Coach Mike Orfao played a huge part in both his success and the team’s achievements last spring. Duncan says that Orfao’s approach to coaching is hugely beneficial for the Warriors.
“I definitely think Coach O was a big factor in my success. He started coaching me in 7th grade, and he and my father were my two coaches,” says Duncan, who lives in Essex. “Coach Orfao knows me well and how I like to play. He runs our team well and lets us be creative on our own. He asks us what we want to do and integrates what we like into the playbook. It allows us to grow and be a part of the game. I think that’s been a huge part of our success.”
Coach Orfao knows that Valley has a tremendous offensive weapon at its disposal in Duncan. Orfao says that other teams in the Shoreline Conference are aware of the impact that Duncan can have in any game.
“Duncan can contribute from anywhere on the field. He has great hands, can feed the ball well, and can finish with the best of them. He is a player that you have to build a defensive scheme against. If you don’t show him the respect he deserves, he will put up a lot of points on you,” says Orfao. “This year, I envisioned Duncan being a leader on the offensive side of the field. I accepted that teams would have probably developed a scheme to lock down Duncan with their best defensemen, and I expected Duncan to prove it doesn’t matter who you put on him—he’ll still be a huge contributor to our team.”
Duncan says that the support of his family helps him stay focused on continued improvement. Duncan’s father Graham has coached him through the years. Duncan’s siblings, Brad and Tory, also motivate him to compete at the highest level he can.
“I’ve been playing a lot with my brother and sister. We have our own training area. We toss the ball around for a couple of hours,” Duncan says. “We run together. We’re pretty competitive, so that helps us. With my brother going Division I and my sister being a two sport All-State athlete, it helps me push myself to get better, too.”
Duncan was looking forward to picking up where he left off with the Warriors this year. The cancellation of the season was a big disappointment for Duncan, but he’s trying to stay positive.
“I was excited for this upcoming season. I thought with our group, we could have been a top competitor in Shorelines this year and a strong team in states. I had a personal goal of 120 points. That would have put me at about 200 points, which would have been very nice,” says Duncan. “I just thank the seniors for such an amazing time last year. I’m super bummed we didn’t get a season this year, but I’m thankful for the memories.”
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