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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A friendship borne out of childhood soccer rivalry

 •  Cho sets volleyball record at Redlands

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

It seems like Kara Ishikawa and Romy Trigg-Smith have always been friendly foes on the soccer field, even if they can't remember when it started.

"I think of her as a friend, and it is just fun to play against her," Cornell's Kara Ishikawa (Iolani 2001) says of Romy Trigg-Smith.

Tyler Dennison | Cornell University

"I don't exactly have a specific memory or moment," Ishikawa said. "But I always remember being really excited to play her team, because they were the team to beat.

"And she was clearly a talented player and everyone knew about her."

Said Trigg-Smith: "It has to have been way back, when we were 8 or 10, we were that young."

A rivalry that began more than a decade ago in Hawai'i continues in the Ivy League, where Ishikawa is a junior at Cornell and Trigg-Smith a junior at Princeton. The teams play Friday in a conference match.

Despite matching up at central midfield positions on opposing teams for most of their careers, including All-State stops at rival high schools, where Ishikawa was at Iolani and Trigg-Smith at Punahou, the 2001 graduates insist their friendship goes deeper than any competition.

"I don't even think of her as a rival anymore," Ishikawa said. "I think of her as a friend, and it is just fun to play against her."

"She's one of the nicest girls ever," Trigg-Smith said. "She's one of my favorites."

Both are the respective leaders of their teams. Trigg-Smith, of Kailua, is the only Princeton player to play every minute of every game this season; Ishikawa, of Mililani, leads Cornell with four goals.

"Experience plays a difference," Ishikawa said. "They have been looking at me a lot to get us into the attack, but once the freshmen get used to it, they can take on different roles."

Earlier in the season, Trigg-Smith was named the Ivy League Women's Soccer Player of the Week and to the Soccer America Team of the Week for leading Princeton to two shutouts.

Ishikawa picked up her second Ivy League weekly honor roll selection this week after scoring in a 1-0 win over Army last Wednesday.

Eighth-ranked Princeton needs one win in its final two Ivy League games to win an outright championship, with its first opportunity against Cornell.

"When it comes to a game, it doesn't really matter who you are playing, because you really want to win," Trigg-Smith said. "We're such great friends off the field, we know it doesn't matter."

The friendship was cemented in their high school years, when they participated in the Olympic Development Program and played on the same club team for the first time.

"I don't even remember when I actually met her, because I felt like I knew her forever," Ishikawa said.

"She's one of the nicest girls ever," Princeton's Romy Trigg-Smith (Punahou 2001) says of Kara Ishikawa.

Beverly Schaefer • Princeton University

Because they knew each other's tendencies so well, by the time they reached college, they could provide scouting reports on each other.

It didn't help Princeton last season, when Ishikawa scored the first goal of the game. Princeton would eventually win, 2-1.

"I was trying to tell everyone about her shot," Trigg-Smith said. "She has one of the best touches on the ball, and she's kind of petite, but she can bust out a shot."

Both players, who are natural central midfielders, are playing out of position. Trigg-Smith has played a defensive role for the Tigers, while Ishikawa plays an outside midfielder for the Big Red.

"It would be a little weird if we had to match up and mark against each other," Trigg-Smith said.

But she doesn't find it strange that they would find their way to playing against each other again.

"I think it's just an indication that we are similar kinds of players and similar kinds of people," Trigg-Smith said. "We're both motivated academically and soccer-wise."

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.