McGough looks to return HP to state tournament with new approach
Before she’s even coached her first soccer game at Highland Park, Aaron McGough already has put her stamp on the program.
McGough has emphasized fitness and accountability during offseason workouts that she anticipates will pay dividends during her first season in charge of the most decorated program in the state.
“We are focusing on a little bit more structure, holding the girls accountable in a lot more areas than just on the field,” McGough said. “They were anxious at first with it being new. They rose to the occasion and blew the fitness tests out of the water. We’re not cutting corners.”
The foundation is in place. HP holds state records with seven state championships and 13 state tournament appearances. The most recent title for the Lady Scots came in 2019.
McGough, who spent the past six years at perennial power Austin Anderson before taking the HP job this summer, just has a little different approach toward continuing that run of success. Team captains Kylie Bell, Parker Hart, Elise Needleman, and Hattie Patterson have embraced the change, she said.
“They’ve understood that it’s a different style of coaching than they’ve had in the past,” McGough said. “They have welcomed that and passed it on to their teammates.”
McGough is a Beaumont native and former college standout at the University of Texas. She replaced Jackie Hlavaty, who led HP to the regional finals last spring in her only season as head coach. Hlavaty was a longtime assistant with the program before that.
McGough said the Lady Scots would value possession, emphasize lateral movement of the ball, and rely on playmaking ability to finish scoring chances.
The nondistrict portion of the schedule, which begins on Jan. 4, will be critical to solidifying the lineup and preparing for another deep playoff run that the Lady Scots hope will take them back to the state tournament in April.
“The program has an outstanding reputation. It’s an honor to be coaching here. There’s a lot of things that already set us up for success,” McGough said. “The girls want to do well and want to work hard to honor the players who came before them. There’s a standard to uphold.”