Old Mill's Michelle Salmon says she doesn't worry about the number of goals she accumulates. Winning is the only thing that concerns her. The accolades can wait.
The Patriots have won plenty of games in Salmon's four years on the varsity girls soccer team, and the 5-foot-4 forward has scored a bundle of goals.
Salmon broke an Anne Arundel County record for goals in a career last night, scoring three goals in a 4-0 win over visiting Annapolis to give her a career total of 81.
The previous record of 80 was set by 1992 Meade graduate Amanda Simmons, who received a scholarship to George Washington University.
Salmon came into the game with 78 career goals, including 19 this season. She scored once in a game against Arundel last week that Old Mill forfeited for inadvertently using an ineligible player, but Ned Sparks, the executive secretary for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, said that individual statistics in this case should remain.
Coach Bruce Sponsler said he thought Salmon was the kind of player who would set a scoring record "just because of her general athletic ability, coordination and quickness. She's got it all physically, and she truly loves the game. She could never play too much soccer. Some kids get tired of it and get a little burned out, but not her.
"She has such a great attitude. I told her when she was a ninth-grader, 'I hope you can keep your same enthusiasm and attitude toward your play here in high school because it's a pleasure to be around you and watch you. If you can, you're going to go a long way.' "
A member of the Olympic Development Program's under-16 national team two years ago, Salmon wasn't aware of her career goal total until earlier this week.
"You would think a kid would go home and have her goals marked on a calendar or something, but it's nothing like that with her," Sponsler said. "I knew she was getting close."
"I asked my mom [Monday night] how many goals I had," said Salmon, who was named The Baltimore Sun's Player of the Year for Anne Arundel County as a sophomore, when she scored 23 goals and had three assists.
"I let her keep track of that. I just go out and play. I don't play for myself. I play to win.
"I believe records are made to be broken. In a couple years, another player will come along and break this one."
The most goals Salmon has scored in one game is five, in last week's 8-0 victory over North County. Sponsler has been careful to remove her when Old Mill has taken a big lead, so Salmon hasn't been able to pad her numbers.
"I've tried to keep her goal total down so that it's fair for her, and it's also not taking advantage of a situation," Sponsler said. "If you have a kid with that much talent who can put the ball in the net, you want her to shoot. But I've tried to keep her out of blowouts. In the North County game, she scored three goals in the first 16 minutes. I couldn't take her out for 65 minutes."
In these instances, Salmon has asked to play defense. Anything to get back on the field.
"I can't stand sitting on the bench," she said. "On my club team [Reston United in Virginia], I play offense and defense. I play all over for them. I want to be a well-rounded player."
Salmon, who was invited to try out again for the ODP national team next month, is being recruited by a host of schools. She has made official visits to Maryland and North Carolina State and also is interested in George Mason, Clemson and James Madison.
"I hope to make my decision sometime in January," she said.
She now has something else to add to her soccer resume.
"This record says a lot about her durability and her consistency," Sponsler said.