The Waynesville High School boys' soccer team came within one goal of winning the district championship last season, that's a goal that head coach Mike Armstrong thinks his guys can make up this season.
"Right now I really like the way the kids are playing," said Armstrong. "They have a good chemistry and I look forward to seeing what they can get done."
Last season the Tigers were all about speed and that led to a three way tie for the conference championship, but with nine players leaving the program through graduation, Armstrong knows that he will have to find a different way to win this season.
"These guys that have been here they know what to expect, they know what we have been working on all this time, they have done what they needed to in the off season," said Armstrong. "I can't ever replace speed, so instead of speed we are going to be a little more technical."
Waynesville was 16-9 last season and went 8-1 in the Ozark Conference, outscoring their opposition 63-40 and 28-10 in the Ozark Conference.
The Tigers lose their top two scorers in Camoy Blash, who scored 21 goals and moved to Texas in the off-season, and Karl DuPont, who scored 13 goals and graduated but they do return goalie Lajos Zadravecz, who split time in goal last season with graduating senior Nick Munoz, and several other players who saw a significant amount of playing time.
"We graduated nine players that we are really going to miss," said Armstrong. "They have been with us since they were freshmen and they were like family but we have a lot of kids coming back that I know will fill their shoes."
Waynesville will have a tough road ahead of them in Ozark Conference play this season but that is a challenge that Armstrong is looking forward to.
"Kickapo and Glendale are always on the top and Rolla always plays well," said Armstrong. "Camdenton can always sneak up on you to and that's the great thing about the Ozark Conference when it comes to soccer, they are really close."
The Tigers held their tryouts during their first week of practice and had a difficult time trimming the roster down to 34, in fact Armstrong still doesn't know who is starters are going to be and really wont know until after the season has began.
"There is nothing set in stone right now," said Armstrong. "These guys are all fighting for a spot. We had 68 kids try out and we kept 34 and it was so close in the top 18 as to who was on varsity that there is no way to say who the top 11 are that will start. We wont know who the "true" starters are until the middle of September"
Waynesville hopes to continue to improve and just like last year maybe do something that has never been done before.
"We had a three way tie for conference championship and that was first time in Waynesville's history that we have done that," said Armstrong. "The kids played great last year. We had a lot of goals and we had a lot of speed."
Waynesville will open up their season on August 24 at Sullivan. Here is the rest of the Waynesville boys' soccer schedule.
8/24 5:00 pm Var/JV Sullivan High School Sullivan
8/28 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Hillcrest High School Springfield
8/30 4:30 pm Var/J.V. St. Frances Borgia H. S. Waynesville
9/4 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Joplin High School Joplin
9/6 4:30 pm Var/JV Willard High School Willard
9/11 4:30 pm Var/J.V. West Plains High School Waynesville
9/13 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Camdenton High School Camdenton
9/18 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Lebanon High School Waynesville
9/20 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Glendale High School Waynesville
9/24 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Nixa High School Waynesville
9/25 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Parkview High School Springfield
10/4 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Rolla High School Rolla
10/5 – 10/6 Varsity Kickapoo Tournament Kickapoo HS
10/9 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Kickapoo High School Waynesville
10/11 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Rock Bridge High School Columbia
10/16 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Catholic High School Springfield
10/19 – 10/20 Varsity Rolla Classic Rolla HS
10/22 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Jefferson City High School Waynesville
10/25 5:00 pm jv/v Ozark High School Ozark
10/29/ – 11/2 Varsity District Tournament TBA