FAIRFIELD — Wayne Mones has had a long career as a soccer coach on the high school, college and premier level, more than four decades long.
So to ask Mones to compare one player to another would probably be quite unfair. Still, Mones, the head girls soccer coach at Notre Dame-Fairfield, can put the career senior Toni Domingos has had in the proper context.
“She’s got to be one of the better kids I’ve had in my long career (43 years),” Mones said. “I’ve had some real greats, like Kia McNeil (former Avon standout) and Manya Makoski (former Trumbull standout, Mones coached her and McNeil in premier) both of whom rank right up there, Sam LaValle (at Notre Dame). Toni has had a tremendous career. She ranks right up there in that tier…. She has been beyond my expectations right from the get-go. As a freshman, she was outstanding.”
Domingos has not missed a game at Notre Dame. She’s been a lethal goal scorer. She led the Lancers to the South-West Conference tournament final and the Class M state semifinals a season ago.
And according to Domingos, she has started every game for the Lancers.
“My confidence is really good. I don’t doubt myself,” Domingos said. “I don’t get scared when I am in front of the goal. That is because (Mones) trusts me so much.”
Domingos does have a number she is focusing on: 100. That is the number she approaches for goals scored during her stellar career.
LaValle had exactly that goal total at Notre Dame. Domingos, a Bridgeport resident, is currently at 98. She goes for the century mark on Tuesday against Barlow in Redding. Barlow is the only team to shut Domingos out this season.
“Since freshman year, that’s always been a goal,” Domingos said. “Twenty-five each year. I was really upset I didn’t get 25 my freshman year, but last year, I did very well (43 goals). To be so close to the number, I’m really excited.”
Mones was familiar with Domingos, playing for Yankee United Premier, where he coaches. He reached out to his college contacts to give her a look.
Among those calls was to Makoski, an assistant coach at the University of Maryland at the time. There was some interest from other programs, but Domingos verbally committed to the Terrapins during her sophomore year.
“It’s a huge school which I love, a really good soccer program and it has plenty of majors to choose from,” Domingos said.
As far as committing as an underclassman? She had seen her heralded Yankee United teammate, Maddie Fried, a senior at St. Joseph now, verbally commit to Villanova before she entered high school.
“I honestly thought at that age, it was normal because Maddie was committed,” Domingos said.
Said Mones: “(Maryland women’s soccer coach) Ray (Leone) saw her for 20 minutes and he was fully committed to her. I expect her to go to Maryland and play right off the bat and I’m sure Ray does also.”
Mones is also Domingos’ guidance counselor at Notre Dame. He said she has a B average.
He also has been impressed by how much better she has gotten as a player.
“She has tweaked her game in all aspects,” Mones said. “She is not a big girl, yet she is as physical and aggressive as any girl I’ve ever had. When you combine that with explosive, impactful speed, and the ability to change direction on a dime, all of those things and the heart of a lion, it all leads to who she is today, which I believe is among the top (high school players) in the country.”
Now Domingos gets to do it in her final season as a co-captain. And she is getting a chance to actually play a season.
There was plenty of doubt going into the summer after the CIAC canceled the entire spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then 11-on-11 contact football was canceled.
But the other sports were able to start at the beginning of October. Domingos said she never lost faith.
“I never doubted that we were going to play. I never let (not playing) sink in,” Mones said. “I at least expected us to play now or in the spring. I wanted to stay hopeful.”
Now there is something to play for: the top seed in the SWC South Division. Get that and the Lancers could have up to three home games in the South Division regional tournament.
Win that division and Notre Dame gets to face the North Division representative for the SWC championship. However the season plays out, Domingos has already left her indelible mark on the program.
“I want to be remembered as a good leader and a nice person by my teammates,” Domingos said. “It’s been a really fun time. I’ve loved playing soccer at Notre Dame.”