Highland Park has been a regular at the girls state soccer tournament, having made three appearances in the past four years.
Getting back there won’t be as easy as it sounds, even with a deep and talented roster that’s motivated following a heartbreaking loss — the team’s only defeat in 28 games — in the Class 6A title game last spring.
Still, that’s the goal for players and coaches, to make amends for that 3-0 loss to Coppell and bring home the program’s first championship since 2011. After all, it’s one of the few goals that nobody on the current roster has accomplished.
“I think with the personnel we have, I think we have the chance to go far,” said senior midfielder Savanna Jones. “We have a pretty well-rounded team.”
The season begins with the annual HP Scots Classic tournament on Thursday, with the Lady Scots hosting Lake Travis in their season opener at 2 p.m.
HP head coach Stewart Brown said the Lady Scots have a nice mix of youth and experience that not only has the physical tools to score and defend, but perhaps most importantly, is mentally equipped to handle high expectations.
“They’ve set their goals on getting back to the state championship,” Brown said. “We have the players to do it and the attitude to do it. We’re very fast and very skilled.”
Jones will lead a strong returning group of strikers and midfielders, but the defense must replace three of four starters in front of sophomore goalkeeper Ginny Hoy.
With the newcomers in the back line, Jones said offense will become more important for the Lady Scots, especially early in the season. That’s why the players hope to score an ambitious 100 goals on the year.
“I think we’ll score more than we scored last year,” Jones said. “We have a lot of new offensive players coming in, and we’re really close already.”
The regular season will start on Jan. 7, when HP opens its annual tournament against Lake Travis. District 10-6A play begins on Jan. 26 against North Mesquite, when the Lady Scots will be favored to defend their title.
Then comes the playoffs, when Brown hopes that his team’s attention to work ethic and team chemistry will pay dividends with a return trip to Georgetown.
“We understand what it takes outside of the games to make that happen,” he said. “They’ve set realistic targets. They want to be challenged. They want to do it for themselves as much as for each other.”