COURTESY OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Kara Ishikawa said Cornell was the only school on the East Coast she applied to and her choice came down to academics, not athletics.
In from the cold
Kara Ishikawa's soccer talent was realized on the chilly fields of Ithaca, N.Y.
KARA ISHIKAWA considered warm-weather schools before deciding she could deal with winter for four years at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
She made recruiting trips to Oregon State and California, talked with the Arizona State soccer coach and applied to Southern California and the University of San Diego.
"Cornell was the only East Coast school I applied to. I had no first choice. I just waited until I found out where I was accepted. It was mainly an academic choice," said Ishikawa.
That was just fine with Big Red soccer coach Berhane Andeberhan, who had watched Ishikawa play in two West Coast tournaments and a regional tourney.
"I liked Kara's skill level and her game sense. She was not as dominant a player then as she turned out to be. I felt she just needed to find her comfort level and obviously she did," Andeberhan said.
COURTESY OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Kara Ishikawa applied at several West Coast schools before settling on Cornell on the East Coast.
Ishikawa led Cornell in scoring the past two seasons and was an All-Ivy League second-team selection both years. The midfielder from Iolani started every Big Red match (47) her last three seasons.
"Kara just puts everything on the line in games. More often than not, it motivates and inspires," said Andeberhan. "Sometimes that kind of leaves the weaker players behind and fractures the team performance although there are many who try to emulate her play. It exposed the range of talent on our team."
Ishikawa was a co-captain this year with Shannon Fraser. They are both majoring in biological sciences, both passed the MCAT (medical college admission test) as juniors and will graduate in May. They have unassuming personalities according to Andeberhan.
Andeberhan recalled one day at practice last fall when Ishikawa and Fraser both received an honor.
"The distinctions were similar. When I talked about Kara's, she just walked away all blushing and embarrassed. Then, I mentioned Shannon's and she did the same thing. I think they were 100 yards away when I was done," Andeberhan said.
"Having said that, Kara is very principled. She is so humble, but very confident in speaking out about what she believes in.
"She is one of those players you wish had 20 years of eligibility. Off the field, she is everybody's sister, just a delightful person."
Ishikawa remembers that day when she was named the Tompkins County Athlete of the Week.
"I don't like when he announces things like that," said Ishikawa, who was quick to name a soccer highlight.
"It was coming home (as a sophomore) to play UH and beating them. They were way more athletic, but didn't play well together," she said.
Ishikawa's 15 career goals leaves her tied for 10th on Cornell's all-time list. She had seven goals and three assists last fall and scored four goals as a sophomore and junior.
She played outside right midfield as a sophomore, split time between the center and right as a junior, and was installed as an attacking midfielder last fall.
Her final two career goals came Oct. 16 in a 2-1 overtime victory over Albany. Ishikawa banged home the game-winner from 10 yards out at 92:28.
However, the beginning of her college career was bumpy.
"I started the first couple games my freshman year and I played terrible," said Ishikawa. "It wasn't a case of not adjusting. I was so afraid of making a mistake, so afraid of what the coach would say. As the years go by, you learn to just go out and have fun."
Her first year also meant learning how to be winterized.
"It was the worst winter they had seen in like 15 years, but luckily I was a freshman and kind of excited," said Ishikawa. "The novelty wore off after that first year. Every year after that I dreaded it more and more."
Besides studying and playing soccer, Ishikawa did go snowboarding once. She also spent spring break her freshman year in the Caribbean and traveled to London the following year.