Written by Corbett Smith
HP girls shut out Creekview, 3-0, continue quest for 1st state soccer title in 10 years
CARROLLTON — It’s been 10 years since Highland Park’s girls soccer team won a state title.
The team came into the season with that goal in mind, and with a motto: “Decade overdue.”
And in this year’s state playoffs, that determination is showing.
Lauren Echols scored within the first five minutes and Megan Gittins added two second-half goals as Highland Park shut out district rival Carrollton Creekview, 3-0, in the Class 4A Region II final at Standridge Stadium.
The win sends Highland Park to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.
“Every year it’s about winning state, and this year — we are finally there,” Gittins said.
Highland Park rolled through the Region II tournament to get to the final, allowing just one goal in the first five playoff games — including a 4-0 shutout of defending champ Frisco Wakeland.
“A lot of it’s mentality,” senior defender Kelsey Bass said. “Everyone has done really, really well.”
When Katie Martin beat her defender at the top of the 18-yard box and found Echols unguarded near the net in the fifth minute, it wasn’t a surprise.
Highland Park (26-1-2) had beaten Creekview twice already this season, by a combined score of 12-3.
But Creekview (19-4-4) had made adjustments going into the game and kept the deficit to one goal at halftime.
“We tried to scheme up a little bit different to try to hold it,” Creekview coach Brian Beddow said. “Gave up a goal early, but I was really proud of the kids. They fought back and just hung on in the first half.”
As it has all season, Highland Park continued to hold possession and apply pressure in the second half.
With 13 minutes remaining, Gittins scored off a perfect corner kick from Bass.
“I got a little space off the ball, and Kelsey kicked it straight to my head,” Gittins said. “It was a great play — so exciting.”
She added her second off a rebound with 3:33 left.
“This team is just focused,” Highland Park coach Stewart Brown said. “It plays well together; it’s committed as a group.”
Mount Pleasant 1, Kilgore 0: Ismael Fernandez scored in the first overtime off an assist from Darwin Amaya as Mount Pleasant advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.