FAIRFIELD — It’s no easy task to keep Notre Dame-Fairfield striker Toni Domingos out of the scoring column. Very few teams have pulled it off during the senior’s stellar career.
Barlow was able to accomplish it on Thursday afternoon at Park Field. But the Lancers, they do have other answers.
Freshman Izzy Chimento scored off a rebound in the 26th minute of the first half. That’s all Notre Dame needed to win 1-0 and remain undefeated.
Barlow was very aggressive,” Notre Dame coach Wayne Mones said. “I thought our girls really fought hard. They didn’t give up, they kept putting pressure on the other team. We created some great chances, we just didn’t put them in.”
Mones said Domingos, who will play at the University of Maryland next season, is playing at ”about 80 percent,” citing both hamstring and calf injuries.
“She might get hurt in a game and might not be able to play the next game,” Mones said. “We have to develop the players around her. We can’t just look for her. … I know we have the talent around her. They just have to develop, gain some experience.”
Domingos, who already has seven goals this season and 92 overall, did have her share of chances. One of them was the initial shot that led to Chimento’s goal.
“It was a nice cross-in by (Mackenzie) Ledford, a shot by Toni Domingos,” Chimento said. “It deflected off one of the Barlow players. It came out to me and I just shot it.”
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Chimento, a midfielder, is one of several freshman contributors for Notre Dame.
“It’s been a lot of team-bonding and working how to play together, a lot of teamwork,” Chimento said. “Without that, we wouldn’t be where we are. … It’s good we have someone to rely on (Domingos). We have a bunch of other goal scorers.”
Said Mones: “This is the best freshman class I’ve had in seven years here. It’s a question of how quickly are they going to mature.”
The Lancers (4-0) finished with 17 shots. Barlow goalkeeper Ella Stalowir made 11 saves, several of them diving, in order to keep the Falcons (1-2) down just one goal.
“Toni is a talented player, but we play team soccer. We aren’t looking to shut one kid down,” said first-year Barlow coach Sarah Brady. “Ideally, we are actually looking to cut the supply off into her because she is a special player and if you give her enough time, she will cause a lot of damage.”
Brady said Stalowir is a forward but had to step into the net when the starting goalkeeper went down with an injury during the preseason.
“(Stalowir) is not a goalkeeper by trade. Ella is a captain and she didn’t hesitate to step up,” Brady said. “She’s not coming (to the position) as a complete novice, but she is a great kid with a great attitude and she is doing what she needs to do for the team as a captain, so we are proud of her.”
The Falcons were able to have some chances, but nothing on net from close range. Notre Dame goalkeeper Veronica Rapi made six saves.
“I don’t think they had a real significant chance at a goal. Nothing hard. That’s a credit to our defense,” Mones said. “But we have to possess the ball better, play quicker and finish our chances.”
Thursday’s contest was a South-West Conference South Division game. The two teams will face one another twice more during the regular season.
But there looks to be something to play for at season’s end. Although not official yet, all signs point toward three rounds of playoffs games and a SWC championship game between the South and North Divisions.
“What you are really playing for is the No. 1 seed, which means you play at home in the tournament until you get to the final,” Mones said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Mones expects to see Barlow in the SWC tournament as well. So that could be four matchups with the Falcons.
“We play Weston two times and we may have to play them a third time in order to win (the SWC),” Mones said. “It’s not easy to beat anyone three times. It’s going to be a challenge.”
NOTRE DAME (Ffld.) 1, BARLOW 0
Barlow 0 0 — 0
ND-Ffld 1 0 — 1
Scoring: ND: Izzy Chimento (Toni Domingos), 26:00.
Shots: B 8; ND 17
Saves: B: Ella Stalowir 11; ND: Veronica Rapi 3.
Records: B 1-2; ND 4-0.