Q&A with men's soccer coach Steve Armas
Under the direction of third-year head coach Steve Armas, Campbell starts the 2012 season looking to add to its collection of four league trophies over the past seven years. Despite key injuries late in the campaign, last year's squad finished third in the Big South standings and went 1-0-1 against members fo the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Facing a schedule that includes three teams ranked in the NSCAA pre-season poll, Armas' unit will attempt to earn the Big South title and claim its first NCAA College Cup berth since 2007.
The Camels begin pre-season play on Tuesday at Clemson before hosting Richmond on Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. it their final exhibition match.
Q: After 17 years as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Campbell returned to the Big South Conference a year ago. How did this change impact the men's soccer program?
A: It has impacted the program in a positive manner. The proximity of our opponents in the conference has allowed us to develop rivalries among the teams.
Q: Liberty (Big South Tournament champion) and Coastal Carolina (regular season champion) both advanced to the 2011 NCAA College Cup. Which teams do you see as the teams to beat in the Big South, and where do the Camels stack up against the league's elite?
A: Coastal and Liberty both have put together strong teams and replenished their rosters over the summer. We had some trouble against both Coastal and High Point and will look to putting together some better performances this year against them.
Q: On what areas will you and your staff focus before the season opener Aug. 24 at SMU?
A: We will most definitely work on all aspects of the program. Our team's defensive shape will take up most of our focus this preseason. Incorporating our incoming players and getting them to understand our system and their roles within it is our top priority.
Q: Once again, you've once again assembled a challenging non-conference schedule, with dates against the likes of SMU, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Elon, Loyola, and UNC Wilmington. How would you describe your scheduling philosophy?
A: My scheduling philosophy is to put together the most challenging schedule possible. It allows our team the opportunity to test ourselves as individuals and collectively as a group day in and day out. The main purpose is to put together a challenging out of conference schedule that will prepare us for conference play. We must develop a belief in our program and in our abilities that we can compete with these elite programs.
A: In looking back at all three of their careers here at Campbell you can see their growth and development as individuals and players. We will rely on their experiences and leadership to carry the team this year. We will ask alot of them. We are fortunate to have a player of Mitchell's ability lead this team. He is an integral part of how we play and his contributions in the attacking end will be necessary for this team's success. Ben Iiames is one of our biggest competitors, he has been an anchor for us in the back and will look to his leadership to help mentor our incoming players. Keegan allows us to play different systems/formations. We will rely on him to help us relieve pressure, contribute to our build up in the attack and most importantly in creating and scoring goals.
Q: What are some of the key factors to gaining a real home field advantage at the Eakes Complex (where the Camels knocked off ACC member NC State last year)?
A: There are a few things that need to happen. We need to put out a good product that spectators will enjoy. Additionally, we want to develop a mentality within our group that understands what playing at home means.
Q: With nine players who started double-figure games returning from last year's squad, who do you view as key contributors from your veterans?
A: It is a rare thing when you have so many key contributors return. My hope is that our seniors and captains will be our key contributors.
Q: What do you feel are your team's strengths heading into the season?
A: The past couple of seasons we have talked about the youth of the group. Now that the group has aged, with this age we have more experience. We have leadership in multiple spots on the field and it should aid in our success on and off the field.
Q: By contrast, what are some areas that need improvement?
A: Just like everyone we need to concede fewer goals and get more output from our attacking players.
Q: 2012 marks Campbell University's 50th men's soccer season. What does it mean to you to be involved in this milestone campaign?
A: "I consider it both an honor and a privilege to be a part of the 50th year of Campbell Men's Soccer and our Golden Anniversary celebration. There is a rich tradition of quality soccer here at Campbell. I would like to thank all of those that have been the driving force behind the continual success of the program over the past 50 years. Numerous successful coaches, countless players, family and friends of Campbell soccer have helped build the program to what it is today.