By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Wildcats desperately need win Friday vs. Boxers

The Wildcats went winless in January and had a miserable experience back in November in California to start the season. Linfield traveled to Southern California and had a team-wide outbreak of food poisoning.

The Wildcats (2-15, 1-10) went 0-3 on the trip, and had to cancel their final two contests due to the illness.

“Over half the team got very sick,” Linfield coach Robin Potera-Haskins said. “We had five ladies that had to go to the hospital.”

Nearing the end of the season, the luck hasn’t gotten much better for Linfield.

Throughout the season, the Wildcats have experienced a plethora of injuries, many of which have been more long-term than expected.

The injury list has included crucial scorers such as Alisen Hinton, Tasha Rowland, Kaleigh Phillips, Jesslyn Albrecht, Tyra Barawis and Taylor Martinez.

“We’ve lost a lot of very good players,” Potera-Haskins said. “It’s too bad because we’re in a very tough, young conference where thing could have been different.”

Through the injuries, the Wildcats have shown there is some talent deep within their bench. Linfield upset Pacific Lutheran 62-49 Feb. 1 to start the month 1-0.

Prior to Potera-Haskins’ arrival at Linfield, the Wildcats had an 0-30 record vs. the Lutes in the past 15 seasons. In her first year as coach in 2010-2011, the Wildcats beat Pacific Lutheran in both meetings that year.

Potera-Haskins considers the PLU win a big motivational boost for the program going toward the conclusion of the season.

“Because of the past,” Potera-Haskins said. “This is basically a big rival for us. The program may have struggled in the past, but we have done well against them since I’ve been here. We’ve beaten them at home, and we’ve been able to win in their place.”

The Wildcats played George Fox in Newberg the following day and fell to the Bruins 64-51.

Next up for Linfield is the Boxers of Pacific University. The last Wildcats win vs. the Boxers was February of 2011, a 65-57 win.

Potera-Haskins said despite the injuries and the struggles of the season, the morale of the Wildcats is still high, and they have their sights set on finishing the season and not looking toward next year.

“It’s awesome,” Potera-Haskins said. “Through all the injuries, we still have 13 (players) strong. We carry a bunch of players. We’re prepared and have a good group of kids, and we’re still working really hard.”

They’ll have to work hard if they seek revenge at 6 p.m. today vs. Pacific (12-8, 5-7). Pacific’s lost three straight and has slipped in the Northwest Conference standings.

The Wildcats struggled against the Boxers when they last played Jan. 12. Pacific beat Linfield at home 57-41. Linfield trailed 21-20 at halftime, but couldn’t contain the Boxers in the second half and was outscored 36-21.

Potera-Haskins said the second half loss was not the result of a defensive lapse, it was the offense that didn’t carry over.

“We actually played well defensively,” Potera-Haskins said. “When the second half came, we just couldn’t knock down shots that we could have made.”

The Wildcats have five games left on the schedule. Linfield needs to win two of those games to avoid its worst season in the program’s history. Linfield went 3-22 in 1990-1991 under coach Mary Kincaid, and went 3-22 in 2008-2009 under Robyn Stewart.

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