Miranda Konstantinides talked about the reaction of those seeing her play for the first time.

"If they know me off the field, most of the time, they're shocked," Konstantinides said. "I flip a switch, and it's almost like I'm a completely different person."

It's often easy to overlook defenders on a soccer field, but not so in the case of Konstantinides, this season's Inquirer Player of the Year in South Jersey girls' soccer.

The Eastern senior was loud, demonstrative. She played with fire and was known for her on-field attitude - the kind that opponents hate but teammates thrive on.

"She's been our unquestioned leader, on the field and off," Vikings coach Jamie McGroarty said.

Konstantinides was the centerpiece of a team that went 21-2-2, won the state's toughest division (Olympic Conference American), and was runner-up in the Coaches Tournament and South Jersey Group 4 tournament.

Eastern allowed just 12 goals this season, and seven came against Lenape, the area's No. 1 team with which Eastern split four games.

As she has been for virtually her entire career, Konstantinides was clearly one of the state's top defenders. But in her senior season, the player McGroarty calls the "most well-rounded" he ever has coached did virtually everything for Eastern.

She moved up when the team needed a goal and did it successfully, recording nine goals and five assists, almost all coming in games' crucial moments.

She directed traffic, motivated her teammates, and did it all with an unwavering tenacity.

"I've always had that mentality of playing tough and of playing your hardest - in every battle and every tackle," said Konstantinides, a Monmouth recruit.

"But that's just the way I play. It's what I've done since I started playing soccer since I was four years old. And I couldn't imagine myself playing any other way."

That style, McGroarty said, had a positive effect on his other players, including several underclassmen who emerged as stars for the Vikings this year.

"She's a battler. She's a competitor. She always seems to have that edge about her," McGroarty said. "She makes everyone on this team better. That's the biggest compliment I can give her.

"She just does everything you need to win. She understands what it takes to win as a team. She's very comfortable in her role. She accepted the leadership role, and she thrived in it."

Konstantinides insists that off the field, she's just a bit more fun-loving than she is on the field.

"But playing soccer is a big part of who I am - it's something I live for," she said. "And being a leader on the field was something I embraced; it's something I enjoyed.

"It all comes back to team chemistry, and I thought that our team did bond very well this season. So I thought that translated onto the field and worked very well for us. I'm just thankful to have been a part of that."