2018 GIRLS SOCCER PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Aleah Kranson, Wyoming Area
It was a banner season for Wyoming Area athletics.
The football team put together an undefeated regular season. The girls soccer and field hockey teams played deeper into the playoffs than ever before.
And then, it all came to a screeching halt Saturday, Nov. 10, when all three teams were eliminated from the postseason.
“We were 0 for 3 that day,” remembered senior Aleah Kranson, who played in the girls soccer match at 2 p.m. and the football game at 7 p.m. “Field hockey, then us, then football. It was kind of hard. There were some tears from me and the whole team.”
But, just a brief moment of recalling the good times — rather than the bad — is enough to put a positive spin on everything, especially the Warriors’ girls soccer campaign.
“Looking back at it, this has been the best season Wyoming Area has ever had in girls soccer,” Kranson said. “It’s the most success we’ve ever had. So, what else could we have asked for?”
Kranson was the most pivotal player in Wyoming Area’s transition from afterthought to powerhouse.
She started all four years, as Wyoming Area’s record in league play and playoffs rose from 5-9-2 in 2015, to 9-8-1 in ’16, to 14-4 in ’17.
The Warriors put it all together this past season, going 17-6 overall while also winning their first district championship and first state playoff game.
Kranson scored the lone goal in Wyoming Area’s 1-0 win against No. 1 seed and reigning champion Lake-Lehman for the District 2 Class 2A title.
She also scored both Wyoming Area goals in a 2-1 win against Midd-West in the first round of the PIAA tournament, before losing in the quarterfinals to Boiling Springs.
Kranson surpassed 100 career goals in September en route to being the leading scorer in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
She notched 35 goals and 19 assists in 12 WVC games. She added to her total with eight more goals and three assists in five playoff games.
Having led Wyoming Area girls soccer to unprecedented success, Kranson is The Citizens’ Voice Player of the Year.
The daughter of Chad and Jenny Kranson of Exeter, with a younger sister Halle in eighth grade, Aleah Kranson was recently interviewed by staff writer Matt Bufano.
Q: Take me back to freshman year, when you were probably the youngest player every time you took the field. How did that season go in your eyes?
A: That year, I went in and didn’t really know what to expect. But once I started working with the girls and stuff, we actually had a lot of talent. Some internal things happened where it all just fell apart. We could have been pretty decent that year, but I think we won maybe three games all season. So it was kind of an eye-opener about the internal things on a girls soccer team that could really ruin a whole season for you.
Q: Back then, you were listed as a “mid/forward.” At what point did you really separate yourself and prove you were worthy of playing forward and being the team’s go-to scorer?
A: My freshman year, I don’t think my coach necessarily knew where to play me. I think she was just getting used to working with me. My sophomore year, that’s when she and I had a year of working together and I kind of stepped up that year. I thought I’d be better off playing up top, and that’s what happened. It took off from there.
Q: Being a forward could be tricky in that you don’t want to be a ball-hog, you don’t want to steal the spotlight from your teammates. Did you experience any trouble with that?
A: My team — the word “together” was our motto. Everybody was truly on board with that word. We didn’t care who scored; at the end of the day, we just cared that we scored. Even though I might have been putting up pretty good stats on the stat sheet, I know — and my whole team knows — that it wouldn’t have been possible without every single girl on the team.
Q: What’s a list of all the sports you’ve played over the years?
A: I’ve played soccer, football, basketball, track & field, softball. Actually, my Little League team in 2011 won the state championship.
Q: What is it about your skills that’s translated best to the soccer pitch?
A: I think I’m a good leader on the sports fields or courts, but also in the classroom. It’s all hard work. I know if I set a good example and keep working hard, and if I do my best, it’ll trickle down to the rest of the team. Ultimately, that’s what makes a team better.
Q: How would you describe this past fall and what you were able to accomplish with Wyoming Area?
A: This past fall was amazing, not only for me personally, but for all our fall sports. We all had very good years. But for me it was kind of bittersweet because it was my senior year. To go out on such a high, though, I couldn’t ask for more.
Q: What was the most important ingredient in this year’s recipe for a district championship?
A: Togetherness. Teamwork.
Q: What’s been the best day of your athletic career as a Wyoming Area Warrior?
A: Nov. 1, when we won the district title.
Q: Are you happy you decided to go out as a kicker for the football team?
A: I am. At first it was a little iffy, but in the end, it all worked out.
Q: What is the reputation you believe Wyoming Area girls soccer has now, versus a few years ago?
A: Before I even joined the team, it was always, “Wyoming Area — they’re an easy win.” ... But now, other teams should be scared to play us.
Q: At this time next year, you will be …?
A: Either in Pittsburgh or at Wilkes, studying pharmacy and possibly continuing my soccer career. I talked to the (Wilkes) coach the other day and it sounded like, if I go to Wilkes, he’d be more than happy to give me a spot. Pitt is D-I. Maybe I could play as a walk-on, or with the club.
Q: Moving forward, how confident are you that Wyoming Area girls soccer can continue to be a strong program?
A: As long as they keep working hard and follow “togetherness” as a team motto, I think they can stay on top for a long time.
Contact the writer: email@example.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter