MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — The Dakota State women won just four games in their 2018 season, but each year, the program has improved. DSU has won 83 games over the past three years, including this season’s 29 victories.

The Trojans won the North Star Athletic Association Championship in 2022, but suffered a second round exit in the NAIA National Tournament.

This year, DSU entered with high hopes for another strong season.

“Behind closed doors in the first team meeting this year we had one goal and that was to win a National Championship,” DSU head coach David Moe said. “Everyone thought that we were crazy when we talked about how good we could be, but we knew.”

Unlike the year prior, the Trojans fell runner-up in the NSAA Tournament, though that seemed to just add motivation.

“Everyone talked to us about how Mayville just shot the ball really well that game and when we watched film, we said it wasn’t anything that they did. We didn’t play hard enough,” Moe said.

Dakota State earned a six-seed in this year’s tournament and they’d go on to win their first two games, advancing to the Round of 16.

Their next two wins required strong finishes as the Trojans posted 57 fourth quarter points.

“Every fourth quarter, coach will just sit us down and he’s like ‘who’s quarter is this?’ and it’s obviously ours,” DSU junior forward Sidney Fick said. “That’s when we’re able to run teams off the floor and we get them tired and we’re conditioned to do what we do in the fourth quarter.”

The Trojans reached their first ever NAIA Final Four, though they’d suffer a 10-point loss to the eventual champion, Clarke.

“Definitely pat yourself on the back and give each other a hug, because we accomplished something really cool,” Moe said. “But, there’s nothing to hang your head about. We accomplished some spectacular and no one thought we were going to be there.”

The loss may have closed the season on a sour note, but that doesn’t take away the significance of the Trojans historic season.

“It just keeps making DSU a bigger name I think. It can get us better recruits so we can keep this program going up,” Fick said.

“I told coaches at the beginning of the year that my goal for this year, was to leave the program better than I found it,” DSU senior forward Elsie Aslesen said. “I’m really excited for the girls next year, that they’ll just continue with the success that we had this year.”

The Trojans finished the year with a 29-7 record.