Wyoming Area’s Aleah Kranson Working Double Time In Playoffs
WEST PITTSTON — Aleah Kranson has played soccer practically all her life.
She’s so good at kicking a soccer ball that last fall — in the student section at a Wyoming Area football game — some friends suggested she try out as the kicker for the football team.
That thought lingered in the back of Kranson’s mind until this spring, when junior F.J. Braccini introduced Kranson to Wyoming Area football kicking coach Kim Pace.
“F.J. Braccini, who kicked last year, was talking to coach Pace at the fence,” Kranson recalled. “F.J. was like, ‘If you want a kicker, ask her.’ So he asked me try it, and I was pretty good.”
The rest is history.
Kranson’s right leg has connected on 39 extra points and a 22-yard field goal for the Warriors’ football team (11-0), which will put its undefeated record on the line 7 p.m. Saturday against Lakeland in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Kranson, who’s at least the third female kicker in Wyoming Area history after Katie Scalzo and Danielle Stillarty.
“I’m friends with most of the guys and they really welcomed me with open arms. It’s like another family here.”
Of course, Kranson’s first family in the fall — when it comes to athletics — is her soccer team.
She scored 35 goals in the Wyoming Valley Conference regular season. The senior has added eight goals in four playoff games, making her the Warriors’ leading scorer for a third straight year.
Coming off two of the biggest wins in program history in both the district final and then in the first round of states, Wyoming Area (17-5) will play Boiling Springs 2 p.m. Saturday at Danville in the PIAA Class 2A girls soccer quarterfinals.
“At the end of last season, I knew if there was going to be a year, it was going to be this year,” Kranson said. “But this team has definitely gone far beyond my expectations, and I couldn’t be more proud of every single girl on the team.”
There’s actually little difference in how Kranson kicks a football, as opposed to a soccer ball.
She is a soccer-style kicker, in that she kicks with the side of her foot rather than with her toes.
“I actually think it’s very similar,” Kranson said. “When I first started kicking, coach Pace was just like, ‘Let’s see how you kick it.’ I kicked it and he said, ‘Well, if it’s not broken, we’re not going to fix it.’”
Kranson has made a field goal in practice from as long as 49 or 50 yards, she said.
“It’s her demeanor,” Pace said of Kranson. “She’s very cool under pressure; she handles pressure very, very well; she’s very dedicated in practicing; she’s extremely accurate. ... It’s her natural ability to kick a ball because she kicks a soccer ball.”
She credits much of her football success to Pace, a Class of 1971 Wyoming Area graduate who also kicked for the Warriors and later tried out for several NFL teams.
While most high school football teams do not have a dedicated position coach for the kicker, Wyoming Area breaks the mold with Pace, who’s a volunteer in his fourth year on the staff.
“I was impressed from the get-go, but I played it cool,” Pace laughed. “We have a number of very good kickers on the team.”
Pace continued, “A good part of Aleah’s success is our center and our holder. We practice them religiously. Not only is it Aleah, but it’s the long snapper (freshman Blaise Sokach-Minnick) and Dominic (DeLuca) is one of the best holders in the state. ... Blocking, snapping, holding, kicking. We want to get the ball off in less than a second.”
The daughter of Chad and Jenny Kranson, Aleah Kranson also owes some credit to her father, who kicked for Valley West back in high school.
Kranson also thanked all her coaches and teammates along the way, as she’d like to study pharmacy in college at Pitt, Duquesne or Wilkes.
Whether she plays soccer in college is still undecided, but in the meantime, Kranson has a few more games to continue making her mark at Wyoming Area.
Much like this year’s WA soccer team surpassed her expectations, so, too, has Kranson’s kicking abilities on the gridiron.
“It was kind of in the back of my head,” Kranson said, thinking back to her friends’ suggestion last fall, “but I never thought it would become reality.”
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