NEWARK, Del. -- After posting its third consecutive winning season, the University of Delaware’s women’s soccer team will face a challenging 2014 schedule in its 25th year as a varsity sport this fall.

The Blue Hens will face four teams - St. Francis (Pa.), Monmouth, St. John's, and Northeastern -  that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 in addition to a competitive Colonial Athletic Association slate.

“We have tried to compile a schedule that provides a variety of teams and styles from different conferences,” said University of Delaware head coach Scott Grzenda, who has been at the helm of the Blue Hens since the inception of the program in 1990.

“We want to challenge ourselves and this year we play teams from seven different conferences not including the CAA. I’m also very excited about our home weekend Oct. 17-19 against Towson and James Madison when we will be celebrating our 25th year with some special events for alumni and friends of the program.”

The Blue Hens’ nonconference schedule features home games against local rivals Pennsylvania and Temple as well as a difficult weekend road trip to Army and first-time opponent Brown. The Blue Hens will also compete at the Navy Invitational Tournament in September.

“It will be great to renew our rivalry with Penn and competing in the Navy Invitational Tournament will be a great challenge for the team," said Grzenda. "Our trip to play Army and Brown will also be a challenging weekend. Every year we try to compile a schedule that will prepare us for play in the CAA, and I feel this year will be a great test."

Delaware went 9-7-3 overall last year and placed sixth in the CAA standings (3-3-2) before falling to eventual champion Northeastern in the CAA Tournament quarterfinals on penalty kicks.

The team lost just four seniors to graduation and returns a solid nucleus led by senior midfielder Allegra Gray (West Chester, Pa./Unionville HS), who earned third team NSCAA/Continental Tire All-Mid-Atlantic Region and first team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors in 2013.

Rising sophomore Natalie Zelenky (Chambersburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg Area), who registered eight points in her first season in a Blue Hen uniform in 2013, and rising junior Emily Market (Holland, Pa./Villa Joseph Marie), who finished with seven points last season, will be the top offensive returnees for Delaware. Market earned third team All-CAA honors a year ago while Zelenky was selected to the CAA All-Rookie team.

The Blue Hens will start the season with two home exhibition games against George Mason and George Washington on Aug. 14 and Aug. 16 respectively before kicking off the regular season with a home game against Monmouth on Aug. 22 in newly-named and renovated Stuart and Suzanne Grant Stadium.