FAIRFIELD — As the final minutes were winding down and Notre Dame-Fairfield’s three goal lead would continue to be safe, Lancers coach Wayne Mones said out loud to no one in particular, “I can’t believe we won by this margin.”

But Notre Dame did. After a slow start over its opening four games, the Lancers are now riding an unbeaten wave of 12 straight, now at 9-0-3 after Saturday’s 4-1 win over Masuk in the quarterfinals of the SWC girls’ soccer tournament at the Park Avenue Field.

“They’ve played beyond my expectations. They keep getting better and better,” Mones said. “They keep surprising me. They did it again today.”

Notre Dame was just 2-2 in its first four starts, but by blending in a freshman, two sophomores and five juniors with his three seniors, Mones has put together a lineup that has found its momentum.

“We’re playing really, really well right now,” said Toni Domingos, who scored three goals against the Panthers. “It’s really good.”

Notre Dame-Fairfield, the No. 4 seed, will face No. 1 Immaculate in the SWC semifinals on Monday at 3 p.m. in Danbury. Immaculate defeated ND 2-0 on Sept. 21. It was the last time the Lancers lost.

“That’s going to be a hard game,” Domingos said of the rematch with the Mustangs. “We’re going to have to play our best that game.”

Masuk coach Eleanor Brainard was admittedly disappointed by her squad’s loss.

“I really don’t have a lot to say about today, I’m sorry, it was a disappointing loss,” Brainard said. “ND’s good, they’re a fast team. We just didn’t match up well with them and they came out and put the ball in the back of the net more times than we did.”

Daryn Dickson took advantage of a giveaway by Masuk keeper Jennifer Jacovino to score and put Notre Dame in front in the 24th minute. The Panthers evened matters just three minutes later when Giavanna DeLorenzo controlled the ball into the box, only to be smothered by Lancers’ keeper Samantha Camacho. However, the ball came loose and Madison Samperi put it home to make it 1-1.

That, however, was all Mausk could muster. ND’s two top defenders, Katie Cuifo and Lindsay Salvati, along with help from Jasmine Fred and Kasha Zadawzki, shadowed the Panthers two big scoring threats, DeLorenzo and Kacey Lawrence, denying them any solid chances.

“We fulfilled our game plan. We matched up … Kasha and Jasmine. They got one good shot (on goal) the whole game. That was tremendous,” Mones said. “Lindsay and Katie were going back and forth, matching up with them whenever they were on their side because (Masuk) did a lot of switching, so we knew where they were at all times.”

Meanwhile, Masuk couldn’t keep Domingos in check, as she scored the last three Lancers’ goals, the first to give ND a 2-1 halftime lead and the last two to lock the game away.

“My teammates got me some really good through balls that I was able to run onto,” Domingos said. “Masuk was really good, their defense, it was really hard to get by them. We just got lucky and got some really good balls through.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Who else? Domingos. Her three-goal hat trick against the Panthers gave her 21 goals on the season to go along with eight assists. “For a freshman, she’s outstanding,” Masuk coach Eleanor Brainard said.

QUOTABLE

“Our defense is really, really good. Jasmine (Fred) and Katie Cuifo and Kasia (Zawadzki) and Lindsay (Salvati) in the back. We’re really fast back there and they’re strong.” — Notre Dame’s Domingos

celseberry@ctpost.com

NOTRE DAME 4, MASUK 1

MASUK 1 0 — 1

ND-FAIRFIELD 2 2 — 4

Records: ND-Fairfield (11-2-4); Masuk (9-5-3)

Goals: ND-F — Toni Domingos 3, Daryn Dickson; M — Madison Samperi. Assists: ND-F — Amanda McGheean, Jasmine Fred, Olivia Carriero; M — Giavanna DeLorenzo. Shots: ND-F — 11; M — 10. Saves: ND-F — Samantha Camacho (9); M — Jennifer Jacovino (3), Kelcie Killigan (2)