Ian Stone will guide the Red Storm against the University at Albany. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s)

QUEENS, N.Y. – Following a 479-day layoff, the St. John’s University women will return to the pitch on Sunday afternoon, as the Johnnies welcome the University at Albany to Belson Stadium.

Sunday’s contest against the Great Danes is slated to begin at 2 p.m. and will be an audio broadcast on RedStormSports.com.

Coached by Ian Stone, the Johnnies welcome back eight starters from last year’s team, including 2021 All-Big East offensive player of the year Zsani Kajan. Last season Kajan led the team with 11 goals and one assist for a combined 23 points. The Budapest, Hungary, native averaged a conference-leading 1.67 points per match over nine conferencecontests last season, scoring a league-best seven goals against conference foes. As a result, Kajan became only the second player in program history to be named the BIg East offensive player of the year, joining the program’s all-time leading scorer Rachel Daly.

The Red Storm also will look to another 2019 all-conference player in Isabelle Aviza, who earned a spot on the Big East All-freshman team. The Medway, Mass., native was one of just two Johnnies to earn starts in all 18 matches last season. The freshman forward notched her first career goal for the Red Storm against Yale, to help lift the Johnnies to a 2-1 home victory. Over her rookie season, Aviza tallied 10 shots, including five looks on goal.

After contributing to the Red Storm’s score total a season ago, seniors Alex Madden and Maia Cabrera return to the pitch for St. John’s this year. Madden registered two goals and an assist for the Johnnies to tie Jessica Garziano for the second-most points on the team with five. Cabrera picked up her first career goal for the Johnnies over the 2019 campaign by way of game winner against conference foe Seton Hall.

Sunday will mark the third all-time meeting between St. John’s and UAlbany, with the Johnnies leading the series, 2-0. The two team’s last matchup came on Aug. 19, 2016 as the Red Storm defeated the Great Danes, 3-0, at Belson Stadium.

Albany, picked third in the 2021 America East preseason coaches’ poll, enters the contest under the direction of first-year head coach Leigh Howard. Howard spent the last two seasons as the head women’s coach at Marist College, leading the Red Foxes to an 18-16-4 record.

Last season the Great Danes finished with a combined record of 9-6-3, including a 6-1-1 mark during conference action. As a result, UAlbany earned a share of the 2019 America East regular-season title with Stony Brook University.

The Great Danes return five of their eight All-Conference selections from a season ago, including first team honoree Jada Colbert. The Freehold, N.J., native scored five goals and recorded three assists to lead the Great Danes with 13 points last year. Albany also returns Jada’s twin sister Jasmine Colbert, who earned a spot on the All-Conference second team alongside teammate Hailey Summers. Jasmine tallied five goals and one assist last year, while Summers finished with one goal and two assists. After being named to the America East All-Rookie team a season ago, the Great Danes welcome back Sahara Zingano who earned minutes in 17 matches, including five starts last year for Albany.