The Falcons (7-2) trailed by a 3-2 score at the time in the South-West Conference game when the Rebels were hit with their second of three yellow cards within a minute span. Not having ever faced such an extreme short-handed situation, New Fairfield coach Joe Robusto called for time.
"We needed to reorganize," said Robusto, noting that a new rule this year makes carded players sit out three minutes rather than just facing a substitution. "I've never had two men down before, much less three."
The timeout was effective for the Rebels, who subsequently increased their lead to 4-2 on Odetta Kupper's second goal of the game. The break in the action was also just what the doctor ordered for the Falcons, who weren't playing up to the standard coach Joe Caruso has come to expect.
"They looked disheveled," said Caruso. "I've seen them play 10 times better. Today wasn't their best game."
Caruso, in fact, said he was considering calling time to get his team regrouped at that critical juncture.
Said Caruso: "I almost called it myself and then walked over to the bench, kind of scratched my head for a minute and said 'I'm going to wait.' And then I heard him call it."
New Fairfield increased its lead to 5-2 on Kristen Spiridon's goal with 1:55 left in the half. But Barlow's Hayley Murphy responded with a goal 12 seconds later to make it a 5-3 game at halftime.
It was the first of six straight scores by the Falcons, who clearly took command at that point. Kim Sniffen, who led all scorers with four goals, and Emma Kelly, who scored three, each netted two goals in that decisive stretch. Emily Zangrillo added one goal.
For Sniffen, a junior midfielder, it all started with Caruso's timeout chat.
"We weren't keeping our composure on offense and we were getting flustered with everything on defense," Sniffen said. "Coach talked to us and we settled down on offense and didn't rush. He said to run our plays well."
After Barlow's scoring burst increased its advantage to 8-5, New Fairfield chipped away with goals by Tara Donovan and Bridget Fenerty, who scored her second goal of the game with 5:52 left. But those two scores were all the Rebels could muster in the second half.
"I don't know what happened mentally at halftime," said Robusto. "We talked about all the adjustments we were going to make, which weren't many. We wanted to keep doing what we were doing.
"In the second half, we had a few breakdowns, nothing to write home about, but apparently it was enough."
Barlow goalie Jen Caruso also ensured that the Rebels weren't going to add to their total. The senior, who finished with 10 saves on 17 shots, made several sparkling stops of point-blank shots in the second half.
"Our goalie has been huge," said coach Caruso. "She's been stellar all year."
Rebel goalie Charlotte Osborne was also sharp, making 11 saves on 25 Barlow shots. The Rebels owned a 23-16 advantage on ground balls.
The Rebels, who fell to 4-4-1, had an extended team meeting after the game. Robusto said that one of the concerns he addressed was directed to the freshmen, three of which are in New Fairfield's starting lineup.
"We're just telling the freshmen that we're raising our expectations for them," he said. "It's one of those things where you have a freshman who's used to eighth grade lacrosse where if you shoot it, it will go in and now they have to move the goalie and shoot against these better teams."
The Rebels are back in action Wednesday at Notre Dame of Fairfield.
Barlow plays host to Stratford that day, but Caruso and the Falcons are already looking ahead to the regular season finale -- a May 20 Senior Night game against Newtown (6-1), which may have a major impact on the final SWC standings.
"It's going to be two freight trains going about 120 (mph)," said Caruso.
New Fairfield (4-4-1) 5 2 -- 7
Joel Barlow (7-2) 3 5 -- 8
GOALS: New Fairfield: Bridget Fenerty 2, Odette Kupper 2, Tara Donovan, Morgan LaBarbera, Kristen Spiridon. Joel Barlow: Kim Sniffen 4, Emma Kelly 3, Hayley Murphy. ASSISTS: New Fairfield: Donovan, Fenerty. Joel Barlow: Kelly, Shea O'Brien. SAVES: Charlotte Osborne (NF) 11, Jen Caruso (JB) 10.
Contact Dan S. Cohen
at (203) 731-3379 or