The classic "up-and-down" cliché used to describe a sports season was the epitome of the 2012 Waynesville soccer campaign.
"We could play great one week, then terrible the next," Coach Mike Armstrong said. "[The athletes] were just so all over the place."
Waynesville started fast with six wins in nine games, three of which were shutouts. During that stretch, Waynesville outscored opponents 28 goals to 19. But, in the team's next seven games, Waynesville dropped five, including four consecutive losses, three of which were shutouts of three or more goals.
The see-saw season was filled with disappointment and frustration, but Armstrong highlighted three games to sum up the 2012 positives: the first place finish at the Kickapoo Tournament (the first in school history); the competitive 5-4 loss to state-ranked Nixa on Sept. 24; and the 1-0 loss to Camdenton in the District Finals.
"Winning that Kickapoo tournament, I think, was great," Armstrong said. "[Our athletes] showed up and really played well there."
Armstrong made similar comments about the games against Nixa and Camdenton before reverting his attention back to the team's 9-0 loss to Kickapoo on Oct. 9, one of several embarrassing losses.
Part of the team's issues were sickness, nagging injuries, and players meeting eligibility requirements.
Senior midfielder Steven Jimenez, the team's leading scorer, suffered from several mishaps to his back, knee, foot, and ankle throughout the year. Another key contributor, senior back Daniel Lord, missed several games due to concussion symptoms. In games against Ozark and Glendale, Waynesville was without a couple of starters because of sickness.
Two other players who were a part of the soccer program since their freshmen years were ineligible to play for the entire season.
Even through adversity, the speed and team intensity remained constant, while both the defense and offense struggled to succeed at all levels simultaneously.
One offensive plague was questionable shot selection.
In reference to the District Finals game against Camdenton, Armstrong said Waynesville outshot its opponent 12-9.
"Our mid[fielders] are putting us in a position to score, but pulling the trigger is what's hard for us so we'll have to fine-tune that," Armstong said.
Toward the end of 2012, Waynesville improved consistency but finished 3-3, including three shutouts, in its last six games.
"At the end of the season we really performed better than expectations, given all the other stuff that was going against us," Armstrong said.
In the team's final contest against Camdenton, a 1-0 loss, Armstrong said his team played perfectly, but simply fell short.
"Individually I saw a lot of skill," Armstrong said of his student-athletes. "We have some guys who can really just play."
Page 2 of 2 - Some of those naturally gifted players will be missed as they will graduate in the spring of 2013.
"[The seniors] were very important," Armstrong said. "We had guys who would step in and provide that kick in the pants we needed, which it seems like only seniors can do."
The underclassmen certainly looked to the brigade's seniors for advice and motivation throughout the season, especially at the end of the year when each game become more critical to Waynesville's season.
If the roster stays the same, five juniors, along with 19 freshmen and sophomores, will return to the lineup in 2013.
And even though most of the players compete on different teams in recreational leagues during the summer, their 2012 team experience will certainly be an upside to the growing soccer program at Waynesville.