For SJU’s Tinari, winning is the ultimate goal

St. John’s soccer standout Morgan Tinari led the Big East in assists last year and now, as a senior, she’s determined to keep setting up her teammates.
Photo Courtesy of St. John’s Athletics
By Laura Amato

Morgan Tinari knew something had to change.

A year after an injury-plagued sophomore season kept her on the sidelines more often than she would have liked, the St. John’s women’s soccer standout made a decision.

She was going to change. She was also going to stop trying to score goals.

For most soccer players, that decision wouldn’t make much sense. But Tinari was determined. She was going to do whatever it took to help her team win, Last season that meant passing the ball.

Tinari’s plan didn’t just work, it paid off in metaphorical spades as she led the Big East and ranked 27th nationally with nine assists in 2015. Now, she is facing her senior season with a similar approach—pass first, win games.

“I’m more of a team player in general, so I worry more about the team than say looking to take credit for a goal,” Tinari said. “So for me, I love it. I think it’s the best feeling getting an assist on a goal. I know people wouldn’t really think it’s that cool, but to me I love it.”

Tinari had plenty of teammates to pass to last season—particularly record-setting Red Storm forward Rachel Daly—but things are bit different this fall.

Daly is gone, as are several other key players from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad, but Tinari isn’t worried. She’s already settled into a leadership role during the preseason and has spent the better part of the last few weeks working on finding that all-important chemistry with the players on the front line.

“Since we don’t have those key players, I think our big thing is to work as a team,” Tinari said. “If our team isn’t going in the same direction, then we’re not going in the right direction. So as leaders we kind of have a big sense of loyalty to each other. If we’re not loyal to the person next to us, then it’s not going to work.”

Tinari has also worked on expanding her own game over the summer, adding a bit of power on her crosses and working on her timing. The St. John’s coaching staff has already started taking notice of the midfielder’s efforts.

“She was always someone who could serve a great ball, cross a great ball,” Red Storm coach Ian Stone said. “In fact, when I first started recruiting her I primarily recruited her as a wide player because she could cross a great ball with her right foot.”

“But she’s definitely developed that even further now. She plays a range of different passes and through balls and she’s just really intelligent. She can read people’s runs and put the ball on a dime, right where she needs it.”

Tinari hasn’t scored a goal since Aug. 22, 2014, but she can’t bring herself to care. She did assist on three game-winners last season, however, so sbe feels as if it all evens out in the end.

A year after deciding to revamp her game, Tinari couldn’t be happier with her choice. She’s a team-focused player and Tinari knows she doesn’t get an assist her if teammate doesn’t get a goal.

Somehow, that makes that stat a little bit sweeter.

“Just knowing that assisting a goal can help our team, I try and basically do everything I can to make sure we win games,” Tinari said. “So if that means I’m not scoring, I’m completely fine with that.”

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