QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s University men will open their fall season on the road against Patriot League foe Lehigh at Ulrich Sports Complex on Thursday evening.

The 7 p.m. game can be found on ESPN+.

The Red Storm will open the fall slate on the road for the sixth successive time, looking to take its first season opener on the road since 2019 after defeating Appalachian State, 2-0, that Aug. 30. The team went on to secure wins in each of its first seven games, finishing the season at 15-4-1 and qualifying for the NCAA Division I Tournament.

Looking to even the all-time series with Lehigh at two apiece, the Johnnies recorded a 5-0 victory over the Mountain Hawks at Belson Stadium in their last meeting on Sept. 2, 2022. The squad’s leading goal scorer, Antek Sienkiel, registered the program’s 21st hat-trick again, marking the first by a Red Storm player since Andrei Gotsmanov on Oct. 30, 2004, against the University of South Florida. Former Johnnies Brandon Knapp and Wesley Leggett also found the net.

St. John’s welcomed 23 newcomers to the 2023 roster, including several key transfers.

The new Johnnies are a balanced group featuring seven Division I transfers, four making the jump to the NCAA’s top level, including an NJCAA national champion, and 11 incoming first-year players that have shined at the state, national and international levels with high school and club teams. Of the 11 expected to make their collegiate debut this season, three will find familiarity playing at Belson Stadium, having been integrated with the NYCFC Youth Academy.

The Red Storm will look to rebound after a tough 2022 season that saw five draws, the most in a season since the 2009 team drew nine times. The team will look to return to the Big East Tournament after missing out for only the second time since 2017.

In the Big East preseason poll, St. John’s finished third in the East Division and received the sixth-most votes.

St. John’s again is deep at the goalkeeper position with returnees Zenden Hart, Ryan Foley and Emmanuel Smalios while welcoming in St. Francis Brooklyn College transfer Alec McLachlan and freshman Max Pfaffman. Hart is coming off a solid freshman season, which saw him stop 42 shots and log two clean sheets and three victories.

The Mountain Hawks wrapped up the 2022 campaign at 3-10-3 with a 2-5-2 mark in league action.

Lehigh lost 80 percent of its goal scorers from last season, including team-leader Jack Sarkos, who finished with eight tallies. The Mountain Hawks will look to sophomore Jason Pynadath after he registered one goal and three assists in his first year.

Goalkeeper Ryan Gross returns for his junior season after recording two of Lehigh’s three wins last season. The Pennsylvania native logged clean sheets in both victories, with wins over American University and the University of Delaware.

Lehigh head coach Dean Koski enters his 32nd season, having securing a program-leading 257 wins during his tenure.

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.