By Phil Anastasia
Most players in most sports try to squeeze every drop out of the final few moments of their senior season.
Madison Tiernan isn't like most players.
If the Eastern soccer star isn't playing with any extra urgency in the last stages of her career, it's only because she's been in overdrive since the first practice of her freshman year.
"I don't see a difference because she has the same intensity every game and every practice," Eastern coach Jamie McGroarty said. "She has an incredible desire to win and she brings everybody with her."
Tiernan might not be able to play any harder now that Eastern has reached its long-anticipated day of deliverance (or disappointment) -- an Armageddon-esque battle with rival Lenape in Tuesday's South Jersey Group 4 title game.
But she appreciates the significance of these dwindling days.
"It's bittersweet," Tiernan said. "To think we only have three games left, max, it makes me kind of sad."
Tiernan, a Rutgers recruit, has done everything in her career except lead Eastern to a sectional or state title. She is the program's all-time leader in career points with 124 and second in career goals with 79.
Eastern is 76-17-8 in Tiernan's four seasons. The Vikings have been ranked in the Top 6 in South Jersey in each of those seasons.
But she came along at a tough time for Group 4 girls' soccer programs, as Lenape has won five consecutive state titles -- beating Eastern twice in the sectional finals.
"It's been tough losing to them," Tiernan said of Lenape. "But we get one more shot."
Tiernan would love to rachet her game to another level for the biggest moment of her career. But that's probably not possible.
"She's one of the best ever to come through (South Jersey girls' soccer)," Williamstown coach Dan Torcasio said. "It's her work rate. You've seen other kids with her skills. But not her effort."
Eastern senior midfielder Sarah Kane said Tiernan inspires her teammates as much with her passion as with her play.
"She makes everybody want to give their best effort," Kane said.
Tiernan might not be able to run any faster, react any quicker or try any harder. She can't push down the gas pedal any tighter to the floor.
But she's a senior. It's the middle of November. The vast majority of her illustrious career is behind her.
These days, like all days, will bring out her best.
The difference is that they also will bring out her last.
"I know what I want to do," Tiernan said. "I want to go out with a bang."
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.