A few area girls lacrosse teams made big jumps last season and were anticipating more growth in the 2020 season.


While COVID-19 has disrupted the start of the 2020 season, here are the seniors we hope to see occupy the field at some point over the next two months:


Danae Benfatti, Jefferson: Guided the Falcons to a 12-win improvement and an NJAC Colonial North Division crown -- the program’s first division title since 2014. Benfatti, who is bound to play at Messiah College, paced Jefferson with 52 goals and 48 draw controls while chipping in 13 assists.


“One of the most dynamic players out there and a threat on the field,” Falcons head coach Katelyn Cannarozzi said. “She is humble in her successes and works hard for her teammates and herself. She has earned numerous accolades over the years and that is a testament to her work ethic and dedication to improving herself.


“Danae is a selfless player that has added so much to the Jefferson program. When you think of Jefferson girls lacrosse, Danae comes to mind, that's how much of an impact she has made.”


Sierra Benson, Pope John: Chipped in for the Lions in all aspects of the game last season. Scored 10 goals, scooped 23 ground balls and won 15 draws. Due to be the senior leader on a young team expecting vast improvement this season.


“From the first time I met Sierra, she was someone I knew I wanted on my team,” Lions head coach Kyla Kelly said. “Positive, full of energy, all about the team. She has a way of building up the team in a positive way and playing her heart out. My heart breaks for all of our seniors on the team. They all play a leadership role and they will not be able to shine bright on the field for an entire season.


Madison Billows, Hackettstown: A major part of the Tigers’ rise in only their third season as a program last season. Secured a team-high 77 ground balls and controlled 62 draws. Midfielder also added 15 goals during a nine-win season.


Katie Callahan, Kittatinny: A balanced weapon in the midfield for the Cougars got it done both finding her teammates and shooting on frame last season. Notched 21 goals and 23 assists while scooping up a team-high 69 ground balls.


“She lives for lacrosse; it is her passion,” head coach Michelle Paluzzi said. “Katie Cal will go down in Kittatinny lacrosse history as being the best ’one-handed grab’ lacrosse players. So many opposing teams’ coaches say “Who is that girl?!”


“She has tremendous strength, aggression, ball control in the midfield, which allows us to dominate the game. If you ever get an opportunity to watch a game, she looks like she is “dancing” with her stick.“


Haley DeBonta, Vernon: Fixture in the midfield for the Vikings is the team’s second-leading returning scorer on a unit hit hard by graduation. Closed last season with 18 goals and five assists, but was also a top contributor on the draw, securing 48.


Daniella DeNicola, Hackettstown: The Tigers senior attacker was a top source of offense has the relatively new program continued to improve in 2019. Finished with 40 goals and eight assists while scooping up 57 ground balls.


Allie McGuire, Sparta: Senior defender was set to step into a big role for the up-and-coming Spartans this season. Was part of a defensive unit that limited six teams to eight goals or less a season ago in a competitive Freedom North Division.


Rebecca Sanderson, High Point: Wildcats senior captain was one of the team’s top returning contributors after notching nine goals and four assists in 2019. Was the only junior to factor in the team’s draw controls a season ago.


Abigail Schwartz, Kittatinny: Had 10 forced turnovers for one of the top defensive units in the area last season, which allowed 8.7 goals per game.


“Abby has the highest lacrosse IQ on the team; she just gets the game like none other,” Paluzzi said. “On countless occasions over the past four years, she has given recommendations and advice to coaches and athletes.


“She is always seen talking one-on-one with athletes giving them tips on how to improve a particular defense drill. Our own teammates are intimidated by Abby’s arm strength on defense!”


Macie Stricchiola, Lenape Valley: Patriots senior midfielder was on pace to surpass the century mark in goals this season after piling up 81 in her first three seasons. Had a transformative junior season, finding the net 51 times and adding nine assists.


“While the Lenape Valley program has not been the strongest in the past few years, Macie's contributions on and off the field have helped this program to grow,” Pats head coach Corinne Bright said. “She is a naturally skilled player with a strong desire to succeed. Her scoring ability helped us to win many close games last year.


“She is a clear leader on the team and someone who many of the underclassmen look up to as she was voted to be one of our team captains this year (a decision made purely by the players votes).”