As the Tigers prepare for the Class 3, District 10 soccer tournament, coach Mike Armstrong said he has been pleasantly surprised with his team this season.
WAYNESVILLE – As the Tigers prepare for the Class 3, District 10 soccer tournament, coach Mike Armstrong said he has been pleasantly surprised with his team this season. With a 13-9 record, Waynesville is set to take on a Camdenton team in the first round of next week's tournament. This week, Armstrong met with the Daily Guide to discuss his take on the season thus far, and what he expects from the Tigers this coming week:
Daily Guide: What is your outlook on the season thus far?
Armstrong: "On Aug. 5, when we first had tryouts, I honestly thought we were going to be scraping by to be a .500 team. Figuring that now that we have 13 wins, that's pretty impressive. We were 13-9 on the season and I still think there [was] a couple games along the way that we dropped that we probably shouldn't have.
DG: Talk about some quality games the Tigers played this season: over No. 2 Rolla, over Catholic and against Jefferson City.
A: "The Rolla game was a fun one – I know the guys enjoyed that. I used to be [Rolla] Coach [Mike] Howard's assistant so going back and playing against him was fun. … We played really well against Jefferson City [and] against Kickapoo, and Catholic both times being a one-goal difference. … When I was looking over our nine losses, I think three of them are losses to teams that aren't state-ranked."
DG: How do you feel as a coach knowing your players can play up to state-ranked competition?
A: "[Of his athletes] They're so coachable. You say, 'Here's step A, step B,' and they go out and they do it. They listen, they work hard and they don't try anything fancy. They just keep it simple and we live or die with that."
DG: One loss against Rock Bridge (L, 8-2) really sticks out on the schedule. How did the team react to that?
A: "In that game, it was 1-0 at halftime. We thought we were really hanging with them, but then we went back out and the wheels just fell off. I think Rock Bridge muscled us a little more than we had been up until that point. … I think you have to have one of those games every season just to humble you."
DG: How do you gauge the team's success?
A: "When we met in the beginning, I told them, 'We know we're not as talented or as skilled.'" … We know the majority of our guys only play a high school season; we don't play year-round like Springfield and Columbia schools. I told them it's going to come down to heart and will. … Then I just left it up to them."
DG: Moving forward, what do you expect in the district tournament?
A: "Camdenton can surprise us. There's a good rivalry between us and them, and this year's (two-part, postponed) game was so weird that I don't know if we really got a good feeling for each other. I expect them to come out hard. They knocked us out of districts last year and so we're obviously looking to get a little payback. … Playing at Lebanon, dealing with their grass field and the way it plays, I think it's going to be a pretty even match."
*Waynesville's first district matchup is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. versus Camdenton in Lebanon, Mo.