Highland Park will return nine of 11 starters from a team that capped an undefeated season with a Class 5A state title last spring.
But when the Lady Scots start a new soccer season in January, head coach Stewart Brown doesn’t need to worry about complacency or lack of focus.
Brown found that out when he sat down with his team captains following last season — after the celebration subsided — and enthusiastically talked about goals and motivation for 2018.
“It’s the same script, we hope,” Brown said. “We want to produce fun, quality soccer and get back to the state tournament again.”
This year’s squad will feature a large senior class, playing together for the final time, which has spearheaded the dominance in recent seasons for the Lady Scots. They’d like to make a fourth consecutive trip to state and bring home a second straight title — two things that have never been accomplished in program history.
Last season’s team finished a perfect 27-0, earned a No. 1 winter national ranking, and claimed the sixth state championship in school history. Six state soccer championships ties Plano West girls and Plano boys for most in state history.
Top returnees from that squad include Presley Echols, who was named the MVP of the state title game following a stellar freshman campaign, along with Rachel Wasserman, Sierra Jones, Sarah O’Neal, Frances Ann Matise, and goalkeeper Ginny Hoy.
“It’s a very talented group. The pieces are in place,” said Brown, whose team allowed only 10 goals last season. “It’s all about finding the right balance.”
HP has already held some spirited and highly competitive practices to prepare for a challenging non-district schedule as well as the District 15-5A slate, which begins on Jan. 30. Although it’s an envious position, Brown knows that life isn’t easy as the defending champion.
“It gives people a little added fuel to beat us this coming spring,” he said. “The girls are focused and working extremely hard.”