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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Felicien Dumas continues to play with passion, lead by example

One of the signature moments of the Irish’s last season came on the road in an early September game against Syracuse.

With Notre Dame already leading 2-1, senior left back and set piece specialist Felicien Dumas prepared to take a free kick positioned roughly 25 yards away from goal. When Dumas’ left foot put the stationary ball into flight, it moved in a way that soccer balls don’t normally move, levitating over the wall of Orange defenders and curling completely across the goal until it kissed the crossbar and nestled into the bottom-right corner of the goal.

As the Syracuse goalkeeper sat in disbelief on the ground, Dumas celebrated his goal of the year candidacy with the rest of the Irish.

The more you watch him play, the more you begin to realize how easy Dumas makes it look on the soccer field. However, while his teammates have certainly grown accustomed to the reliable defense and flashes of offensive brilliance he provides, Dumas has worked hard during his collegiate career to prove that he belongs.

Allison Thornton | The Observer
Irish graduate student defender and captain Felicien Dumas dribbles the ball during Notre Dame's 1-0 win over Denver on Sep. 8.

In 2014, with a veteran team returning to South Bend after winning the program’s first College Cup the season prior, Dumas didn’t see the pitch in his freshman season. In 2015, the Singapore native appeared only twice as a substitute.

“It was definitely hard not playing as a freshman and as a sophomore,” Dumas said. “At the same time though, I always knew that I was good enough to play here and that all I needed was a chance. In those first two years, it was just a matter of reassuring myself that when the opportunity came, I was going to make the most of it.”

When his opportunity finally arrived as a junior, Dumas didn’t disappoint, appearing in all 20 matches for the Irish in 2017. In addition to anchoring the Irish back line, Dumas dished out a team-high eight assists and added three goals.

In his senior season, Dumas again led the team in assists with six and appeared in 19 games despite battling through some injuries. Now a graduate student, Dumas will serve as one of three captains for the Irish.

In his final college season, however, Dumas won’t be taking anything for granted.

“I worked my butt off in those first two years, and to this day I keep working as hard as I can because I know the moment I stop someone else is going to take the opportunity like I did,” he said.

Dumas credits his intense work ethic and unwavering love for soccer to his father, who introduced him to the game when he was six.

“There was a park right by my house where my dad introduced me to soccer, and ever since then I’ve loved the game and have just kept playing throughout my life,” Dumas said. “When I play soccer, everything else in my life tends to melt away and I can just focus on the moment.”

That 6-year-old who was enamored with the beautiful game quickly grew into a budding star early in his high school career. At 13 years old, Dumas said he received offers from European clubs to join their academy teams and was eager to compete, but his father was adamant about his son receiving an education.

“My dad is a big believer in education, and so he was looking around for the best options for me and said that I could go to the United States to get a quality education and play soccer at a high level,” he said.

Dumas, a finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, continues to excel both on the field and in the classroom, where he has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll three times. When he took visits to U.S. schools as a high school player, Dumas felt Notre Dame would be the perfect fit for him as a student athlete.

“It was just the combination of academics and athletics for me,” Dumas said. “The undergraduate business program is one of the best in the country, and in terms of soccer, there’s just a different kind of drive and energy here. The coaches do a great job of creating a great atmosphere for the team.”

As Dumas’ final season with the Irish gets underway, he said he hopes to fulfill his role as captain by leading by example. He also mentioned that he received some important advice from head coach Chad Riley, who served as an assistant captain in his final undergraduate season at Notre Dame in 2003.

“If there’s anything he’s said that’s stuck with me, it’s just continue to be who you are,” Dumas said. ”He just explained to me that you don’t need to change who you are or alter your playing style to be a captain. Of course there’s some more responsibility in terms of taking care of the team and the younger guys, but trying to be someone you’re not is something that you just can’t do as an athlete.”

When asked about how he has developed over the totality of his Notre Dame career, Dumas said that paying attention to the small details in his life, both on and off the field, has helped him transform into the leader that he is today.

“I think I’ve definitely matured a lot and learned that in a way it’s all about taking care of the little things,” Dumas said. “If you don’t take care of school, then it’s going to affect your soccer. At the end of the day if you don’t study hard or sleep well, you won’t play well in practice and then you’ll just be in this vicious cycle of negativity.”

As the Irish have their eyes set on advancing past the quarterfinals of the College Cup this year, Dumas is holding nothing back in his final season at Notre Dame.

“Every time I step on the field I am going to give my all,” Dumas said. “It’s something that I pride myself on. I hate to lose and I hope to have no regrets about how hard I work and how much effort I put into winning.”

The Irish will look to continue their hot start to the season when they take on Clemson this Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Alumni Field.