Imagine coming to America from a foreign country to play soccer and then being told you cannot play—and then having Notre Dame College offer a new opportunity.
Freshman Alexis Souahy brought speed and skill to the soccer pitch for the Falcons this season. He did not, however, have an ordinary path to Notre Dame.
Souahy and the men’s soccer team finished second overall in the Mountain East Conference in the regular season. This marks the third year in a row that the men’s soccer team has qualified for the NCAA-II tournament.
But the Falcons lost 1-0 to Mercyhurst University in the first round of the national tournament.
As one of the mainstays in the lineup throughout the season, Souahy is from Saint Etienne au Mont, France, and came over to the United States to play soccer at Bowling Green State University.
After he was told he was ineligible to play NCAA Division I, he said he had to make a quick decision about whether to stay in the US or go back to Europe.
As the school year was approaching, the men’s soccer head coach at Notre Dame, Michael “Mac” McBride, was tipped off by a coach from Division I about Souahy.
“Souahy came to our attention late in the recruitment process,” McBride said.
McBride saw videos of the Frenchman playing soccer and liked what he saw. He called and emailed Souahy to recruit him to play soccer in South Euclid before the season started.
“We liked what we saw and the rest, as they say, is history,” McBride said.
As for Souahy, he had to finish applying, enrolling, arranging payment and visa status in a hurry to be a part of the Notre Dame family this year.
“It was very late,” Souahy said, “I had to fill out a lot of papers and had a lot to do and learn in a quick period.”
Souahy said his teammates and the coaching staff helped him when he arrived. He completed every form he needed to and was ready to be part of the Notre Dame community.
And just like most people would expect, the adjustment period was tough. On and off the field, he said he had to adapt quickly.
On the field, Souahy has to deal with the physical nature of the game in America, a difference from his time in France. Back home, Souahy said the game is more “tactical.”
When he is not practicing or playing in a game, he goes back to the dorm, another difference, but an enjoyable experience.
“Back home we don’t have campus life,” Souahy said. “There’s a lot to do on campus here: sports to watch, homecoming activities, organizing trips to the cinema with teammates.”
And it didn’t take Souahy long to grow into the family that is Notre Dame soccer. He said he looks at his teammates as family first now.
“I have been most impressed with the heart of my teammates,” he said. “Not only a team, it’s a family before we are teammates, and we give our all.”
Souahy is impressed with his team and his coach is very happy to have him playing on Notre Dame’s side.
“Souahy has been exceptional for us this season,” McBride said. “Without him we certainly wouldn’t have made the NCAA tournament.”