NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The SFA Soccer team is building a dynasty when it comes to dominating the Southland Conference. As the Ladyjacks gear up for their Conference Tournament, they're riding in on their fifth consecutive SLC Conference Championship.
"It feels great. I love it. It feels awesome to be part of this SFA winning streak we have going on," said Southland Conference Player of the Year Amanda Doyle.
"It's so special. Not everyone can say they've won a conference championship every single year that they've played let alone win one," said senior captain Rachel Owens.
While the team is all smiles now, there were definitely some growing pains as they started this year's campaign. The Ladyjacks went through their fair share of adversity taking on what was ranked as the 10th strongest pre-conference schedule in the country.
With their tough schedule the Ladyjacks entered conference play 6-1, but rather hang their heads the team pushed forward with their eyes set on the ultimate goal.
"It prepared us to be more physical and get our minds right to play our conference teams," said Doyle.
"I'm glad we went through it. I didn't come here to play easy teams and get easy wins and I know our coaches don't want to be here to play easy teams to get easy wins," said Owens. "If we want to be the best, we have to measure ourselves against the best. It's a learning piece and obviously we learned a lot through that."
SFA went from winning one game in the pre-season to winning eight of their 11 conference games.
"It's a testament to what resiliency can do. The fact is when they had that adversity, this group could have released the burden and expectation of winning a championship. They could have fragmented, but instead they came together, they shouldered the burden and expectation of winning a championship even in the face of adversity," said three-time Southland Conference Coach of the Year Wally Crittenden.
Another burden on the team's shoulder is although they've reigned over the Southland, they've dropped the ball when it comes to winning the conference tournament in order to punch themselves a ticket into the NCAA's.
The last time the team made it to the NCAA Tournament was in 2012, despite making it to the conference tournament final every year since.
"Hopefully we do win because it's our time," said Doyle.
"We have seen everything. Now the question is, are we going to choose to manage that adversity and take it head on? This group has proven time and time again that they will," said Crittenden.
SFA will play Southeastern Louisiana after the Lions beat A&M Corpus Christi Thursday evening 3-1 in the tournament quarterfinals. The tournament semifinal will be played Friday at 4:30 p.m.
The team said they wouldn't mind playing Sam Houston in the tournament for a little revenge as they did lose to the Bearkats in their last conference game. That loss broke SFA's 32 conference game win streak, which was the longest active streak in the nation.