By Liz Matakevich
Shore Sports Network Contributor

WALL – Senior Alix Couto was a freshman the last time the Wall girls soccer team went to an NJSIAA sectional final in 2010, and Monday against 11th-seeded Hightstown, she picked a good time to have the game of her career.

Jennifer Textor (with ball) looks for Alix Couto (14) during Wall's win over Hightstown on Monday. Couto scored three goals and Textor had two assists in the win. (Photo by Liz Matakevich)

Couto recorded her first hat trick of the season, netting three goals to help No. 7 Wall defeat Hightstown 4-0 in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. The Crimson Knights will play at top-seeded Somerville in Thursday’s Central Jersey Group III final.

“It’s so exciting to win here again to get into the finals after not doing it since my freshman year with the team,” Couto said. “To be able to experience this again and make it there is just great.”

“This group of girls was just great all year,” first-year head coach Mike Juska said. “When I took on the job I knew that they had a lot of talent, and they worked so hard all year to get to this position to make it to sectional finals.”

Couto’s three goals came within eight minutes of one other. Her first goal was in the 32nd minute, when Jennifer Textor started the play off by bringing the ball down the right side and then hitting a textbook cross to the wide open Couto, who finished it off in front of the net.

The second goal of the hat trick was in the 35th minute, when Couto dribbled to the front of the net where she faked out Hightstown goalkeeper Haley Brennan and made a quick shot to her right to score.

Couto’s final goal came in the 39th minute, when Heather Arbachesky made her way to net and then gave a quick pass off to Couto where she finished once more, earning the hat trick.

“It was really exciting to be able to get the hat trick today,” Couto said. “Lately I haven’t been on my 'A' game so this game my mind was just set to come here and get the win, so to also get a hat trick to help my team is just amazing.”

Abby Musto started things off for Wall in the first with a goal of her own. In the 15th minute of the first half, Textor made a pass to find Musto who quickly took a shot to her left on the ground, finding the back of the net to give them a 1-0 lead.

The four goals in the first half gave Wall a huge 4-0 gap over Hightstown, only allowing them to have a few chances to counter attack.

“It was just huge for us to get those points early to secure the lead because they have a great offensive threat in Dakota Mills - she has been hot all year,” Juska said.

Mills was Hightstown’s secret weapon in the semifinal match, being a part of almost every play that had a chance to help her team get back in the game. She started off quickly in the first, beating a defender to get a shot off on net that Wall goalkeeper Alex Panasuk was able to save.

Mills had another good chance in the 18th to put Hightstown on the scoreboard when she made strong shot on net, but Panasuk made a diving save to shut down the threat.

“We knew we had to shut her down throughout the game and there were a couple scares in the first half with her getting shots from outside the 18, but our defense has been great all year, especially with our two senior captains in the back, Meaghan Gallagher and Jen Textor,'' Juska said.

The Rams had a couple more chances in the second to bring them back in the game, with the first coming in the 50th minute when Erin Dailey made a threatening cross to the front of the net, where Panasuk came out to make the save. Dailey had a free kick outside the 18 soon after in the 53rd minute, finding Mills near the net to get off a header that landed out of bounds.

Neither defense would allow a goal in the second half. Wall had eight shots on net to Hightstown’s four, while goalkeepers Panasuk and Brennan both recorded four saves.

“The second half we were just focused on shutting them down since we had a comfortable four-goal lead,” Juska said. “The girls probably played one of the best games they have so far, and I’m excited for them to be making these memories playing with each other.”

Box Score

Wall 4, Hightstown 0




Hightstown (10-10-1)




Wall (17-4-1)




Goals (Assists): (W) Abby Musto (Textor) 15’, Couto (Textor) 32’, Couto 35’, Couto (Arbachesky) 39’
Shots: Wall, 8-4
Saves: (H) Brennan 4; (W) Panasuk 4