QUEENS, N.Y. – Fresh off three consecutive victories to open up the 2021 spring slate, the St. John’s University women will kick off its Big East season, welcoming Villanova University to Belson Stadium for a 6 p.m. meeting Thursday.

The game will be produced live by SJU-TV and can be viewed on ESPN3, available on the ESPN.com/watch and ESPN app. Ralph Bednarczyk will have the call from Queens.

The Red Storm is riding high, coming off wins over the University at Albany, Sacred Heart University and the University of Massachusetts. The Johnnies hey have outscored their opponents, 10-1.

Jessica Garziano, the Big East offensive player of the week, has scored five goals, including a hat-trick in the 3-0 victory over Sacred Heart Feb. 25. The Melville, N.Y., native leads St. John’s in scoring with five tallies, good enough to rank second in the conference.

Goalkeeper Naya Lipkens, who was named to the conference honor roll on Monday, has been excelling in early season action for the Johnnies. With two shutouts, Lipkens boasts a 0.42 goals-against average.

The Red Storm was ranked No. 8 in the United Soccer Coaches East regional poll. The team sits second in the conference for goals (10), assists (8) and points (28).

After going winless in the first three games of the 2021, Villanova registered its first victory of the season on Sunday in a 1-0 win over Saint Joseph’s. The Wildcats enter league play with a record of 1-3-0. Graduate student Sam Rosette, a product of the Bronx, scored Villanova’s lone goal of the season.

Megan McClay, named the conference goalkeeper of the week, totaled 10 saves in over 188 minutes last week. McClay made two saves agaomst Saint Joseph’s. In the Wildcats’ extratime loss to Drexel Feb. 25, McClay recorded a conference season-high eight saves.

Thursday will mark the 28th meeting between the schools with Villanova owning a 13-11-3 record. The Johnnies will look to defeat the Wildcats for the eighth straight time. St. John’s last two wins over Villanova have been come-from-behind effprts. Zsani Kajan, the Big East preseason offensive player of the year, saw success against the Wildcats last season, as the Budapest, Hungary native recorded the second hat-trick of her Red Storm career in a 4-3 victory.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.