By Rick Kretzschmar / Special Contributor
CARROLLTON — Just like that, Highland Park’s quest to repeat as Class 5A state champions was over.
The Lady Scots were upset by Frisco Wakeland 3-2 on Saturday in the Region II final at Standridge Stadium. The game was decided by a shootout, in which Wakeland emerged with a 4-2 edge.
The Lady Scots (25-1-1) had their 53-game unbeaten streak snapped, and were denied their sixth trip to the state tournament in the past seven years. It was just the fourth time in the past two seasons the Scots allowed two or more goals in a game.
Wakeland's Taylor Fogle, Payton Adams, Hannah Mandel, and Hanna Mueller scored in the shootout while Halley Ray and Frances Ann Matise converted their kicks for HP.
The shootout drama was nearly avoided in a thrilling finish to the second overtime period as HP freshman Maja Davison got a sliding shot off under pressure from six yards out with two seconds remaining, but the ball went outside the right post by about a foot.
Yet where the game may have been lost for HP was the first half, when the Lady Scots had a strong wind at their backs and a 9-2 edge in shots on goal.
HP got the game's first score when Presley Echols chipped in a pass from Sarah O'Neal, but the Lady Scots couldn't convert four additional quality scoring chances in the last 15 minutes of the half.
“I felt like we played well. We had our chances,” said HP head coach Stewart Brown. “In any other game, those chances would have gone in.”
When the Lady Wolverines (22-1-4) got the wind advantage in the second half, the tone of the game changed as the Wolverines had a 10-5 edge in shots on goal. Mandell tied up the game at 1 in the 40th minute on a header off a Fogle corner kick. HP took the lead back on a Rachel Wasserman penalty kick with 22:42 remaining, but Fogle tied the game at 2 in the 64th minute on a free kick from 15 yards out on the right side that deflected off the left post.
HP also was stymied by Wakeland goalkeeper Mackenzie Wilbanks, who finished with 10 saves. The Lady Wolverines avenged a 2-1 loss to the Scots in the regional quarterfinals in 2017.
Meanwhile, it was the final game for perhaps HP’s best-ever group of seniors, who earned the state title with a 27-0 record last year following state runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016. The graduating group includes Wasserman, Matise, O'Neal, Sierra Jones, and K.K. Callaghan.
“I feel for them,” Brown said. “They had a lot of expectations on their shoulders for two years and they handled it with the utmost class.”