QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s University women will kick off their fall campaign on at 7 p.m. Thursday evening, welcoming NJIT to Belson Stadium.

The Red Storm returns plenty of talent from its 2021 spring squad that compiled a record of 5-4-3, including a 5-1-1 mark inside Belson. The Johnnies welcome back all 11 starters from last year’s team, including 2021 spring All-Big EAst secondteam selection and 2021 fall preseason offensive player of the year Zsani Kajan. The Budapest, Hungary native enters her final campaign as the Big East’s active leader in conference points (33) and goals (15). Last season, Kajan tallied four goals in 11 games and led the Johnnies offensively during conference action, converting on three goals to tie for fourth in the conference.

The Johnnies also return their top goal scorer from a season ago in Jessica Garziano, who earned a spot on the preseason All-Big East team. The Melville, N.Y., native found the back of the net seven times to rank third overall in the league last season.

St. John’s will look to another 2021 spring all-conference player in Ava Collins, who earned a spot on the Big East All-Freshman Team after finding the back of the net two times. She also led the squad in assists with five to finish in a tie for third overall in the league.

The team also returns veteran goalkeeper Naya Lipkens for her redshirt junior campaign. The Bloomfield, Conn., native started eight games for the Red Storm in the spring of 2021, compiling a .722 save percentage to go along with a 1.04 goals-against average.

Thursday night will mark the first meeting between St. John’s and the Highlanders.

NJIT will make the trek to Queens for its first game of the season and its inaugural contest as members of the America East Conference. The Highlanders will bring back 21 returners from the 2020 campaign played in spring 2021, including its two top goal scorers Corbin Reifschneider and Lauren Chamberlain. The duo of Reifschneider and Chamberlain tallied two scores each last year.

In addition to its 21 returners, the Highlanders also welcome seven freshmen and one transfer into the program.

All fans will receive complementary admission to regular season home matches during the 2021 fall campaign.

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 live from Queens.

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.