CARROLLTON — After claiming the program’s first state championship in a decade last season, the Highland Park Lady Scots are not at all ready to relinquish that crown.
Highland Park controlled most of the match on its way to a 1-0 victory over Wylie in the Class 4A Region II final on Saturday afternoon at Standridge Stadium. The Lady Scots (24-0-5) will play Cedar Park (22-3-2) in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Thursday in Georgetown.
Denton Guyer (26-1-0) will face Magnolia (19-5-2) in the other state semifinal at 11 a.m. Thursday. The winners will meet in the title game at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“Our goal is to play aesthetically pleasing soccer and work for each other,” Lady Scots head coach Stewart Brown said. “One of the things we talked about in the playoffs is having a better team effort than our opponent. To this point, we’ve done that. We’re excited about the prospect of playing next weekend.”
The only goal of the game came in the 34th minute, as Katie Summers delivered a pass to Katie Martin, who headed the ball in for her 39th goal of the season. It was the second time in the postseason Martin scored the only goal of a match and her fourth straight game with a score.
“We had a lot of chances we didn’t capitalize on,” Martin said. “The key to that was to keep possession, We’ve really been working on playing possession through the middle. We did a really good job of holding onto the ball and not just kicking it and letting it get away — that was the difference.”
The first half that was dominated by Highland Park. In fact, Wylie only managed one shot on goal, from 40 yards out, in the opening 40 minutes.
“We always wait for something to happen somewhere,” Brown said. “I felt like we were going to get a goal there late in the first half the way the game was going. You can always count on Katie coming up with a goal or two every couple of games. It’s not surprising, but just a fantastic finish. Her goal at the beginning of the year was to score 40 goals. We hope she surpasses that.”
The Lady Pirates (21-9-1) got stellar goalkeeping from Jennifer Hiddink and played more aggressively on the offensive end in the second half. But even though Wylie had a handful of quality scoring chances, the Lady Scots left the Lady Pirates frustrated.
“Last year, everybody was after Wakeland because they were the defending state champion,” Brown said. “The target was smaller on our back last year. This year, because we are the defending state champions, it just gives teams a little added incentive. Everybody wants to knock off the state champions. If we weren’t the state champions, we’d be wanting to. It’s been tougher, but I think our girls have stood up to it very well.”
The win also ran Highland Park’s unbeaten streak to 48 straight games and was its fifth straight shutout. In Friday’s regional semifinal, the Lady Scots rolled to a 5-0 victory over Waxahachie behind a pair of Megan Uhr goals and one each from Hope Hyde, Martin, and Savannah Jones. Highland Park is now two wins away from making it back-to-back state championships and six total.
“We have a lot riding on our back and a lot of expectations,” Martin said. “We have to work harder because we have a huge target on our backs. We have to come out strong and not take anything for granted.”