Lady Scots Set for 6A Postseason Push

A year ago, Highland Park felt it had the talent and the experience to make a deep playoff run in the deepest girls soccer region in the state.

Yet following a regular-season title in District 7-6A, Lady Scots saw their campaign end prematurely in the Region I area round against McKinney Boyd. It became clear this was not Class 5A, where HP has been a perennial power for two decades.

“Ultimately our run was ended much sooner than we hoped. I think that was a bit of a shock to all of us,” said HP head coach Aaron McGough. “It’s a much higher caliber of competition earlier on than we’ve seen before.”

With one season remaining before the Lady Scots again return to the 5A ranks, they needed adjustments to give another deep senior class an opportunity at greater postseason success.

“It was a wake-up call to figure out what we needed to understand and prepare for, both mentally and physically,” McGough said. “We’ve taken that sting from last season and turned it around for our benefit.”

McGough made defense a particular point of emphasis, focused on keeping possession and building an attack from the back. HP also has tried to strengthen the roster from top to bottom, creating more depth to combat fatigue.

Reese Liner and Emerson Andrews have anchored the defense, while goalkeepers Paige Binns and Charlotte Pulliam have shared the success by splitting halves in almost every game. The Lady Scots are among the leaders in shutouts among all Dallas-area teams.

Meanwhile, HP also has averaged almost three goals per game thanks to potent attack led by dynamic and fleet-footed striker Elle Jones, as well as midfielders Lucy Cox and Addie Brink.

Another key step in the team’s growth was competing in the National Elite Prep Showcase in Southlake during mid-January. The Lady Scots were 1-1-1 in the tournament while exposing themselves to a level of competition they could face again in postseason play.

“They gave us some great challenges and some needed adversity that gave us a chance to look at some areas of weakness early on and made us a much better team,” McGough said,

HP rolled through the regular season with another 7-6A championship, but this year feels more poised to capitalize in the playoffs.

“We’re so proud of these girls,” McGough said. “They’ve been working so hard and that’s all we can ask. We’re excited to be rolling into the playoffs with energy and positivity.”

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