Backed by Lewis sisters, Alabama State picked to win SWAC
There’s a culture change going on with the Alabama State women’s soccer program, and Ariela and Aaliyah Lewis of Anchorage are leading the revolution.
In just their sixth season, the Hornets had never won more than seven games in a season before piling up 14 victories last year.
The freshman are the No. 1 scoring sister act in NCAA D1 women’s soccer and led Alabama State to the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship game for the first time.
The twins have bigger plans this year. They want to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“It is my dream to help get my team to the NCAAs and hopefully in a few there,” Ariela told me. “But it is a huge accomplishment.”
She isn’t the only one to have faith in the Hornets.
SWAC coaches voted Alabama State as the preseason No. 1 team.
“I think it’s a huge honor that people are saying we are No. 1 in the SWAC and predicting us to win the league,” said Ariela, last year’s SWAC Freshman of the Year. “It’s a great feeling but also puts the pressure on us to live up to the expectations. I think it’s an amazing feeling to see the previous years and then reflect on last year and just see the growth this team has had and the potential it can have in coming years.”
Last year, the Lewis sisters combined for 33 goals and 16 assists for 82 points in 22 games. Almost every Lewis goal came off a Lewis assist.
Aaliyah was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 18 goals and 43 points. At Dimond High, she was a two-time Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year.
Together, they have brought a winning edge from Alaska to Alabama State.
“Honestly, I think one of the biggest components that helped us turn things around would be more competition and the team’s determination and the pushing each other to be better and do better,” Ariela said. “We all have one goal and that’s to win the ring and make NCAA Tournament, so we have to make sure everyone gives their maximum effort.
“I’ve been working hard, training hard, waiting for this upcoming season and I am definitely ready to give my opponents a tough game.”