FORT SMITH (KFSM)- UA-Fort Smith once again start their fall campaign with high expectations. Not only have they been tabbed to win the Heartland conference they were also listed in the Division II Top 25 poll at number 19.
But, this veteran squad thrives off the pressure.
"I mean I think it's good when you have attention on yourselves," said assistant coach Tyler Kanelos. "The pressure is kind of important to us we've been in big situations, this team has this program has. So coming in we want that, we kind of embrace that target on our backs and every game we are going to get everybody's best game. We are really aiming for big things."
Doing big things is something the team has become accustomed to. During the past two seasons, they have compiled a 58-9 overall record and a 31-1 conference record, and with a big group of returning seniors the Lady Lions are eyeing not only another run at the final four, but a National title.
"Our senior class has been through a lot we went through the final four, the elite 8," said senior Payton Hamilton. "So we know what it takes to get there so we are just trying to show the younger girls and the lower classmen what it takes to get there and try to lead them and encourage them to work hard and get there again."
UAFS was close to a national title last season. They lost to Wheeling Jesuit in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight last season, but this time around they are looking to go all the way.
"We don't won't to be great now, we want to be good we want to build up," said senior Emily Tripp. "Because, obviously we are working towards the end goal and each day we just want to work on getting two-percent better. Our biggest goal is to take it each day by day and just kind of push through and work hard, because as long as we are focusing on the little things and ourselves everything else will fall back into place."
The Lady Lions will open their season on Sept. 2 against Rollins in the Springhill Suites Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska.