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The Wall girls soccer program has been one of the state’s most consistent teams on a year-to-year basis, but in order to add to their collection of postseason hardware in 2022, the Crimson Knights had to change.

After getting bounced in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament by Trinity Hall and losing two more consecutive games by a combined total of 6-0, Wall was 6-6 overall with a five-game losing streak and a scoreless drought of just over 250 minutes.

Despite his team’s struggles, veteran coach Mike Juska knew the pieces were in place to be a state-championship contender. He just needed to find the right combination to unlock that level of performance and confidence.

Photo: Steve Meyer
Photo: Steve Meyer

Juska and his squad found the right mix right on time. Wall stampeded to a Central Jersey Group II championship – its fourth sectional title since 2016 – and its strong finish to the season earned the Crimson Knights the final Surf Taco Girls Soccer Team of the Week for 2022.

Wall started the NJSIAA Tournament with a 7-7 record and got rolling in the right direction with a 4-2 win at Governor Livingston and made a significant statement three days later with a 7-1 drubbing at top—seeded Metuchen.

The Team-of-the-Week run then began with Wall knocking off Manasquan, 1-0, for its second win over the rival Warriors in a span of 11 days. Senior Kaitlyn Pettit headed in the game’s lone goal and the Crimson Knights posted the first of three straight shutouts that would carry them to the group final stage of the tournament for the fourth time in seven years.

In the sectional final, Wall made its fourth straight road trip, this time to play Class A Central division rival Rumson-Fair Haven. After losing to the Bulldogs, 2-0, on Oct. 15 for their fifth straight loss, the Crimson Knights paid their division rivals back in the form of their own 2-0 win. Freshman Madison Miller scored the deciding goal and senior Kiersten Brown delivered the knockout blow just before halftime.

Wall finally got a home game in the Group II semifinals and celebrated a 1-0 win over Seneca, with Pettit supplying the lone goal once again.

Making its fourth championship appearance since 2016, Wall fell behind West Morris Central, 1-0, before recovering with a more assertive attack in the second half. Despite the greater threat over the last 40 minutes, Wall could not notch the equalizer and fell one goal short of a state championship against the first-time champs from West Morris.

Although the season ended with a loss, Wall transformed what had the makings of being a forgotten season into yet another memorable one for one of the best girls programs in Group II.

2022 Girls Soccer Team of the Week Winners

Week 1: Point Pleasant Boro

Week 2: Brick Memorial

Week 3: Central

Week 4: Holmdel

Week 5: Toms River South

Week 6: Howell

Week 7: Freehold Township

Week 8: Point Pleasant Beach

Week 9: Middletown South

Week 10: Wall

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