Ian Stone will celebrate his 25th year as St. John’s women’s head coach with a challenging schedule. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s Sports Communications)

QUEENS, N.Y. – Entering their 25th season under the direction of head coach Ian Stone, the St. John’s women have announced their fall schedule.

The 18-game slate features showdowns against five programs that reached the NCAA Division I Tournament a season ago and nine home matches at Belson Stadium, marking one of the most challenging schedules in recent memory for the Red Storm.

St. John’s will begin the preseason portion of its schedule Monday, Aug. 6, with a 7 p.m. home contest against Wagner. Three days later, the Johnnies will conclude exhibition play with a trip to Lehigh at 6 p.m.

The regular season will begin on Thursday, Aug. 16, with the program’s first trip to the Volunteer State to battle Southeast Conference foe Tennessee. The Vols advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season before falling to Washington State in a shootout. Tennessee returns its leading scorer, Khadija Shaw, who tallied 14 goals and 33 points.

Three days after visiting Tennessee, the Johnnies will return to Belson for their home opener against Buffalo at 7 p.m. The matchup with the Bulls will be the first since the clubs met in 1992 and only the second meeting in program history.

St. John’s will hit the road again to battle Central New York foe Syracuse Thursday, Aug. 23. Former Big East rivals, the Red Storm and Orange will square off for the third consecutive time at SU Soccer Stadium. In 2015, St. John’s captured defeated Syracuse, 1-0, en route to capturing the New York Challenge Cup. That season, the Johnnies went on to win the program’s first Big East regular season title.

The Johnnies will return home for two of their next three matches. St. John’s will face off with Sacred Heart Monday, Aug. 27, for its first meeting since back-to-back contests in 2006 and 2007 before concluding the month with a trip to Drexel Thursday, Aug. 30.

The Red Storm will open September against local foe Stony Brook Sunday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. at Belson. The Seawolves captured the Big East title last season, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

St. John’s will embark on its longest road trip of the season when it visits The West Coast to battle Long Beach State and Pepperdine. On Friday, Sept. 7, St. John’s and the 49ers will square off under the lights for the second successive season after the visitors defeated the Red Storm, 1-0, last September. Two days later, the Johnnies will travel up the coast to Malibu for their first ever showdown with Pepperdine. Last season, the Waves advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 3 Virginia.

The Red Storm will take a few days off following the return from California before battling Delaware in Queens Friday, Sept. 14, to close out non-conference play. The team has won four of its last five meetings with the Blue Hens.

The Johnnies will kick off conference play with a home tilt against rival Georgetown Sunday, Sept. 23. Four days later, the Red Storm will head to Omaha for a showdown with Creighton. St. John’s defeated the Bluejays, 1-0, in double overtime following Christina Bellero’s game-winning tally in the 105th minute last season.

St. John’s will travel to Milwaukee for an afternoon match with Marquette on Sunday, Sept. 30. The Johnnies will be looking to halt a three-game losing skid to the Golden Eagles with their first victory at Valley Fields.

The Red Storm returns home for back-to-back matches on the corner of Union and Utopia. First, St. John’s will host the Friars of Providence Thursday, Oct. 4, before squaring off with another NCAA Tournament participant from last season, Butler, Sunday, Oct. 7. The Johnnies will look to claim their fourth victory in their last five tries over the Friars and remain undefeated at Belson Stadium against the Bulldogs.

The penultimate road match of the year comes following nearly a week between games as the Red Storm travels to local conference foe Seton Hall Saturday, Oct. 13. Last season, the Johnnies captured their sixth-straight victory over the Pirates when Bellero broke another scoreless deadlock with a strike in the 68th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 triumph.

St. John’s will undertake two of its final three regular season matches inside the friendly confines of Belson Stadium. On Thursday, Oct. 18, the Johnnies will host Villanova and look to extend their unbeaten streak to seven against the Wildcats.

The following Sunday, St. John’s will the road for the final time during the regular season with a visit to the Queen City to battle Xavier. The Red Storm has never lost to the Musketeers in its history, using an own goal in the 108th minute of double overtime to defeat Xavier last season.

St. John’s will look for revenge in the final contest of the regular season, hosting DePaul Thursday, Oct. 25. ast season, the Blue Demons eliminated the Johnnies from Big East Women’s Soccer Championship contention with a 1-0 victory on the final day of the regular season.

The Big East Women’s Soccer Championship will be hosted by the higher seeds throughout the tournament for the second consecutive year. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host the first round Sunday, Oct. 28, before the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will host the semifinals Thursday, Nov. 1. The highest remaining seed will host the final Sunday, Nov. 4.