Salvo sets MTHS shutout record

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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Olivia Salvo sketched her name into the athletic record books at Middle Township High School Monday afternoon.

Salvo, a senior goalkeeper, recorded the 28th shutout of her career in the Lady Panthers’ 2-0 victory over Buena. The clean sheet broke the program career record of 27 ½ shutouts set by Rebecca Sykes in 2009.

“It feels great that I accomplished something like this over my four years,” Salvo said. “I tried to work hard since Day 1. It feels great to have it pay off.”

Although Middle had a bit of a struggle against a Buena team it defeated by five goals on the road earlier this season, Salvo wasn’t challenged much during Monday’s victory. She was forced to make one sliding stop in the first half but otherwise handled every other ball with ease.

After a scoreless first half, Bridget Ruskey scored less than two minutes following the interval and added an insurance goal about 16 minutes later. The Lady Panther defense was strong in the second half after shaky start, permitting only two harmless shots to reach Salvo after the interval.

The victory improved Middle to 12-3 for the season heading into Wednesday evening’s showdown with rival Lower Cape May, a game with huge ramifications on the Cape-Atlantic National Conference race.

Salvo, who also starts at forward for the school’s basketball team, stands about 5-8. Her height, athleticism and aggressiveness on balls in the air serve her well in front of goal.

Salvo has been goalkeeper her entire soccer career, which began with the Cape Express Youth Soccer Club. She was pegged to take over as the team’s starting goalkeeper as a sophomore following Jessica Versage’s brilliant 15-shutout senior season in 2010 but an ankle injury suffered during the summer left her watching from the bench at the season’s outset. She eventually got back in the lineup during the middle of the season and has been playing well ever since. Salvo posted 10 shutouts in only 12 games during the 2011 team’s CAL National Conference championship season, one that saw the team advance to the South Jersey Group II title game. She added 10 more shutouts as a junior during Middle’s 13-5-2 campaign. Monday’s clean sheet against Buena was her eighth of the current season.

Salvo said she didn’t know about the possibility of breaking the career shutout record until a few weeks ago.

“I found out probably halfway through the season when my coach (Bob Wishart) told me,” she said. “Coming into the season I didn’t know I had a chance for it.”

Salvo’s record-breaking shutout came during the program’s Senior Day. Fully aware of the moment, Middle’s players rushed to Salvo’s side at the final whistle to congratulate their teammate.

“It was really exciting to do it on Senior Day,” Salvo said, “because we had a lot of fans here and a lot of the players’ families were here supporting us.”

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