New Challenge Awaits HP Soccer Teams in 6A

Lady Scots aim for state tournament return after near-miss last season

The sting of just missing a trip to the Class 5A girls soccer state tournament last year has been replaced by a fresh set of expectations for Highland Park.

The Lady Scots have plenty of talent returning and a legacy of postseason success to help ease the transition to Class 6A, which means a schedule upgrade, especially in the playoffs.

“We’re seeing really tough competition,” said HP head coach Aaron McGough. “Our girls just need to understand that every game matters. I think it will be good for us.”

Naturally, the offseason has been smoother for the Lady Scots heading into McGough’s second season at the helm. HP was 24-1-2 in her first year, with the only blemish coming against Frisco Wakeland in the 5A Region II final.

“It’s nice to have the pre-existing relationships this time with the players. They already know what to do and how to do it,” McGough said. “We can push a little more since the girls know us and trust us. Those building blocks are there.”

The roster includes 17 varsity returnees, led by versatile midfield duo Hattie Patterson (a Mississippi signee) and Ella Weathersby (an Arizona signee). Top goalkeeper Claire Binns is back, as is Ellie Jones, last year’s District 13-5A newcomer of the year who led the Lady Scots in assists. Three-year starter Emerson Andrews, who verbally committed to Kentucky, anchors the defense.

“We play as a team, and everybody is involved,” McGough said. “Everybody contributes.”

Boys look to continue momentum

On the boys side, Highland Park followed up a district crown last year with three playoff victories before falling to Frisco Lone Star in the 5A Region II semifinals — the program’s deepest postseason run in a decade.

The Scots have earned consecutive district championships for the first time since 1986-87 and will look to continue that success against a tougher nine-team alignment in District 7-6A.

Last year’s 19-3-3 campaign garnered all-region honors for HP head coach Salvador Richie, who has a handful of key returnees to navigate a more challenging schedule in 2023.

Jack O’Grady was the district’s top newcomer a year ago. He’s joined in the midfield by Rhett Rapuzzi, Gray Godfrey, and Brant Williams. Jake Whitehurst returns after scoring 13 goals last season.

Also back for the Scots are goalkeepers Kyle Barron and Jack Madsen, along with defenders Reid Valentine, Hafeey Shah, Zayan Shah, and

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