2013 Season Outlook
Staying focused on the factors they can control, the Linfield Wildcats enter the 2013 season on the upswing.
Six Wildcats return, including four who saw significant playing time a year ago. They are joined by four promising freshmen.
Coming off a difficult 2012 season in which team victories were few, the Wildcats intend to “play hard, play to win and play with integrity,” according to Carl Swanson, who enters his 13th season as head coach.
“It’s difficult to predict outcomes,” said Swanson, when asked what his measuring stick for success might be. “Given our youth, my expectation is that we continue to make improvements.”
The team features a blend of experience and youth. “We have a good combination of up-and-comers, core players, and good leaders,” said Swanson.
Seniors Zachery Lyons and Kadin Hashimoto are expected to thrive in their roles as veteran leaders.
Four battle-tested sophomores make up the core of the team and their development will likely reveal the direction the season goes, noted Swanson. Ben Brewer, Lukas Kleinman, Micah Roos and Joel Trousdale each competed in the lion’s share of matches in 2012 and appear ready to elevate their games this spring.
Four freshmen are capable of contributing during their debut seasons. Tim Hawkins and Alex Mangan are capable of earning a spot in the starting lineup in the early going. Robert Beezer and Nick Konen may take longer to adjust to the college game but could also hear their number called.
“I’ve seen significant progress from this group,” said Swanson, summing up the team’s collective growth. “We’re going to continue to build on that foundation. Their effort is good.”
Whitman is the defending Northwest Conference champion, with Linfield, George Fox, Pacific and Whitworth all chasing. Willamette, featuring perhaps the NWC’s top player in Josh Wong, is also in the mix. Lewis & Clark, Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran are on the rise, meaning there won’t be any easy matches for the Wildcats.
The season starts Feb. 15 with a dual match at PLU. Playing a modified round-robin schedule, Linfield is focused on ascending to one of the top four places in the NWC point standings in hopes of earning a coveted berth in the conference’s championship tournament.
Following the NWCs, the Wildcats are slated to compete individually at the Ojai Tournament in southern California before facing Cal Tech in a dual match at the end of April.
“Our goal is always to play to win,” said Swanson. “ Yet we want to be a team of high character, one that does things the right way and represents Linfield the right way.”