Dr. Dave Masur (right) begins his 30th year at the St. Jon’s helm. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s University)

QUEENS, N.Y. – Some 441 days after seeing its 2019 season end in the NCAA Division I Tournament Round of 16, the St. John’s University men’s soccer team will return to game action on Saturday when it hosts Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m. on Belson Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with Drew Casey on the call.

Despite the long layoff, St. John’s will look to carry over momentum from a 2019 campaign that saw the team match its highest win total in more than a decade. The Red Storm turned in a record of 14-5-1, rising as high as No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the RPI in late October after starting the season 12-1-0.

The Johnnies went on to earn their 21st NCAA Tournament berth in the last 28 seasons while advancing to the round of 16 for the 12th time and earning a top-16 national seed for the ninth time.

St. John’s welcomes back plenty of its top talent from the 2019 squad led by reigning Big East offensive player of the year and 2021 preseason Big East offensive player of the year Tani Oluwaseyi. Last season, Oluwaseyi recorded 11 goals and five assists, becoming the first Johnnie to reach double-digit goals in a season since Simon Salino during the 2003 College Cup campaign. Oluwaseyi was one of six Johnnies to earn All-Big East recognition last season, tied for the second highest total in program history. Big East co-goalkeeper of the year Jan Hoffelner returns between the pipes, as do a pair of Third Team All-Big East selections in Brandon Knapp and Einar Lye.

Dr. Dave Masur begins his 30th season at the helm of the Red Storm men’s program. He ranks sixth among active Division I coaches with 422 career victories and 15th in winning percentage at .675. The two-time national coach of the year has guided the Johnnies to four College Cups, including the 1996 National championship.

In addition to the February temperatures differing from what the team is accustomed to in August, the 2021 season will bear more than a few differences from a typical fall slate. The Johnnies will play 13 regular season games, four fewer than usual.

The non-conference portion of the schedule will feature three games; In 2019, the Red Storm played eight out-of-league matches. Instead of playing each Big East opponent once as they have done since the league realigned in 2013, the Johnnies will face each of the teams in the conference’s East Division twice, once at home and once on the road. The size of the Big East Tournament has also been reduced from six teams to four, as the top two squads in each division will earn a postseason berth. The size of the NCAA Tournament has also been reduced from 48 teams to 36, eliminating 12 at-large bids.

Saint Joe’s is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw the Hawks go 5-12-1 with a 1-7-0 record in Atlantic 10 play. The Hawks were predicted to finish 12th in the league’s preseason coaches poll.

The Hawks return eight starters from 2019, including two of their top three scorers in Alvin Dahn and Garrett Lyons. Dahn tied for the team lead with four goals and added an assist while Lyons recorded his nine points by scoring three goals and dishing out three assists.

The Red Storm and the Hawks have met twice before on the pitch with the Johnnies claiming victory in both contests. St. John’s the first meeting between the two, 3-2, in 1992 at the University of New Hampshire as part of a 16-game unbeaten streak to start the season.

The Johnnies went on to win their first Big East Tournament and earn their first of 21 NCAA Tournament berths that November. The squads met again in 2016 at Belson Stadium, a 2-0 victory for the home side behind a brace from Filippo Ricupati.