Lacrosse review: STX Duel U head

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Cole Jaquith

The Duel U was one of STX’s most highly anticipated releases to date. Faceoff men have been searching for the perfect head for years, and STX claims to have found the answer. Faceoffs have grown in popularity in the last few years, in large part due to The Faceoff Academy, and the position has now become highly marketable. There was a great deal of suspense leading up to the release of STX’s new product, does the Duel live up to the hype?

Appearance: 9/10

Take one look at the Duel and the scalloped scoop will tell you right away that it’s an STX product. STX’s patented scalloped scooped has been featured on many of their most popular heads, including the Proton Power, the Super Power, and various Xcalibur models. The Duel features a key hole face shape that is highly attractive to faceoff mean and that is legal for both college and high school. From the side, the Duel looks very similar to a Nike Lakota, which also features a two strut sidewall system. The feature that distinguishes the Duel from any other head on the market is it’s extremely short throat, which I will get into next.

Technology: 10/10

The Duel’s short throat is the main reason why it is so attractive to faceoff men. A shorter throat allows the player to get their hand closer to the ball, which gives them a distinct advantage over their opponent. STX was able to make the throat so short by using their innovative throat plug technology. The throat plug actually goes inside of the shaft, allowing the head to have an extremely short throat while still remaining stable. STX attempted this in the early 2000’s with the Liquid head with mixed results, but the new throat plug is much improved.  The Duel is actually marketed as a faceoff system along with the Duel Scandium shaft, but it will fit in any hollow shaft. With the Duel shaft, the head can be attached from the side where a screw hole lines up with a hole in the throat plug, but many players choose not to do this as the side screw often  tears up people’s hands. STX’s scalloped scoop isn’t just for appearance.  STX thinned out the scoop on the sides so that it will flex, making it easier to pick up ground balls, and left the middle thicker to prevent it from wearing down to quickly. STX also engineered specific flex points into the head so that the Duel will flex properly during a faceoff.

Stringing: 8/10

The Duel was by no means hard to string, but it definitely doesn’t offer as many options as other heads. The  Duel’s twelve sidewall holes allow for a nice mid to low pocket, which is perfect for faceoff men. The head was probably designed with a lower number of sidewall holes for two reasons: one being that faceoff guys don’t need an extremely high pocket and two being that a greater number of sidewall holes means a greater chance of cracking.

Stiffness: 6/10

Don’t be put off by the low score, if the Duel were a 10/10 it probably couldn’t be used for faceoffs. The Duel actually starts out relatively stiff, but as it breaks in it begins to flex very nicely. The bottom portion of remains very stiff, securing the ball during a faceoff, while the top portions flexes, allowing for a quick plunger move. In a long scrum, the head actually elongates, making it thinner and allowing you to get the head of your stick under your opponents.

Durability: 5/10

I was not very impressed with the durability of the Duel. The Duel begins to hourglass very quickly, leaving the throat wide and the middle of the head pinched. After only two sessions of live face-offs, the top sidewall of my Duel caved in, making it illegal. This is due to the fact that STX beefed up the plastic in the throat and thinned out the plastic in the middle. I understand that the head needs to be flexible, but STX cut away a little too much plastic. You can make the head legal again by using a softball or boiling it and reshaping it, but it will become legal again relatively soon.

Overall: 7/10

STX put a lot of effort and technology into this head, so I can see why it’s priced at $89.99. The Duel is great while it lasts, but durability is definitely an issue and the price point is high for a head that becomes illegal after little usage.  If you can afford to get a couple, or if you’re a FOGO who can take a faceoff and get off the field and stick a softball in the head, by all means, try out the Duel.