Scots Lack Element of Surprise in Lacrosse Title Push

Defense leads defending champs against out-of-state powerhouses

If ever Highland Park could be considered an underdog in lacrosse, last season’s surprise run to the Texas High School Lacrosse League state championship — the program’s first since 2015 — was it.

Flash forward one year, and the state’s most decorated high school program, with eight crowns overall, is in a somewhat daunting position of trying to repeat.

Such expectations are part of the building process for second-year HP coach Mike Pressler, whose stellar pedigree amassed during a four-decade college career paid immediate dividends for the Scots.

“We coach these kids like a Division I college program,” Pressler said. “I’m not dialing it down. These kids are dialing it up. So far, that formula has absolutely worked.”

This spring began with new and more ambitious goals for Pressler — not only defending the state title, but making HP nationally relevant in a sport that tends to be dominated by more established East Coast programs.

The Scots scheduled accordingly, with 11 consecutive games against teams from outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including seven against out-of-state opponents.

HP responded with a 9-2 record in that grueling stretch, including a victory over California powerhouse Torrey Pines, which handed the Scots their only loss in 2023. The Scots also picked up their first-ever win over IMG Academy in Orlando, Florida.

“That was the plan, to test ourselves on a national basis,” Pressler said. “I’ve got to keep bringing them back down to Earth. We’re one negative performance away from being beaten. But when we’re on, we have demonstrated multiple times this year that we can play with anyone in the country.”

The defense has been particularly impressive, with HP surrendering three goals or fewer in seven of their first 14 games. The Scots allowed just two against Torrey Pines, which scored 13 against them last year.

Pressler credits the goaltending duo of John Allen and Jack Morse, as well as defensive stalwarts Ben Boyer, Donovan Riley, Harrison Wheeler, Keller Holmes, and others.

“We’re coming together offensively, but week in and week out, our defense and our goaltending has been outstanding,” Pressler said. “That’s been a consistent common denominator with this team.”

As the playoffs approach, the Scots are confident they can refocus and adjust to their new role as favorites for this season’s state tournament on May 11-12 in Magnolia.

“We’ve just got to gather ourselves and understand the mission ahead. We know that we will get everybody’s very best,” Pressler said. “We’ve got some very talented and skilled players. They have bought in. Hopefully that momentum keeps going.”

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