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senior day 2023

‘I just had to do it’: Notre Dame soccer star Bryan Dowd takes opportunity to play football

| Friday, November 17, 2023

Notre Dame Athletics
Senior punter Bryan Dowd warms up before the Irish’s 45-38 Gator Bowl victory against South Carolina on Dec. 30, 2022.

When you think of Bryan Dowd, you probably imagine him standing between the goalposts in a long-sleeved shirt and gloves like he has for three years as the starting goalkeeper for Notre Dame men’s soccer.

This Saturday, he’ll be wearing a different uniform as he suits up for his final home game as a reserve punter on Notre Dame’s football team. Dowd had never played football before his freshman year of high school. Now he’s running out of the tunnel for one of the most historic teams in all of college football.

“It was talked about a bit before … when I was in high school,” Dowd said about joining the Irish football team. “When Brian Mason took over as special teams coordinator, he reached out to me and that’s how all this started.”

Dowd eagerly embraced the opportunity.

“My desire to do it came from just wanting to do whatever I can for this University,” Dowd said. “When the opportunity presented itself, to help out the school on the football team, I jumped at the opportunity, and I just had to do it.”

Despite his two-sport status, Dowd’s athletic legacy at Notre Dame is undoubtedly on the soccer pitch. This season, he’s again been the anchor at the back of a formidable Irish men’s soccer team. In his career, he’s made 58 appearances for the soccer team while spending three seasons as the team’s starting goalie.

Two years ago, he kept six consecutive postseason clean sheets as part of the team’s run to an ACC Tournament title and a College Cup semifinal appearance. This season, he was named ACC Goalkeeper of the Year for the No. 4-ranked Irish.

Dowd has strived to deliver the same mentality of success to the football team, as he splits time between both sports.

“Those championship mindsets and championship habits on the soccer field, I think carries over into the specialists’ room and the football team as a whole,” Dowd said. “I just try to take as much as I can over into the Gug [Guglielmino Athletics Complex].”

Dowd’s soccer commitments mean he can only make it to football practice when the Irish soccer team has an off day. Even with the limited practice time, Dowd said he has felt supported by his football teammates even when he’s on the soccer pitch.

“The football family has embraced me, and all those brothers are always there supporting me, whether they can attend a game or they’re watching on their own, texting me after, congratulating me, stuff like that,” Dowd said. “It’s very close-knit community, and I really value the support that each one of those guys has given me.”

Despite not taking a snap in his two years on the team, Dowd has had the chance to suit up for the team’s home games and even went to the Gator Bowl last year. He said the walk into the stadium is his fondest memory of being on the team.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said.

Dowd said he’s excited for his final walk into Notre Dame Stadium with the team on Saturday for Senior Day against the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons. But even when chatting about football, his mind wanders to his soccer game the following day.

“I’m feeling good,” Dowd said about his final home football game. “The guys look really strong, and I’m excited to support them and play my part, excited to get a win on Saturday and hopefully win on Sunday, too.”

He mentions Sunday because of Notre Dame soccer’s upcoming NCAA Tournament opener at home that evening. The Irish received a No. 2 seed in the tournament and will face Kentucky.

Dowd is hoping the Irish make a deep run in the tournament, but a part of him is also cognizant of the future. After four seasons of high-level play for Notre Dame soccer, he said he is currently leaning toward entering the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, slated to take place Dec. 19.

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About José Sánchez Córdova

José is a senior from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico studying political science, French and journalism. He is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer.

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