Player Profile: Will Daniels - Clutch Under Pressure

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For those that know Will Daniels, only one word can accurately describe his true nature on the pitch: clutch. From his impressive career at Notre Dame High School, to his brief stint with NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) club Kitsap Pumas, Daniels has always had a knack for performing at his best, when the pressure is at its highest. Through hard work, perseverance, and an uncanny ability to find the back of the net, Daniels ultimately worked his way into becoming a high-quality starter in the Icelandic Premier League (The Úrvalsdeild karla). But to truly understand how Will Daniels became a mainstay in Grindavík FC’s starting eleven, one must first understand where he came from.

Born in Clackamas, Oregon, Will’s family relocated to Connecticut, when Will was a young boy. After a promising youth career, Will enrolled at Notre Dame High School, and immediately became a force for the school’s soccer program. After scoring an impressive 17 goals, between his sophomore and junior seasons, Daniels flourished as a senior. In his final season at Notre Dame, Daniels scored an incredible 22 goals (including 3 in 7 minutes on his senior night), garnering All-State honors twice in his career.

Ready to take the next step in his athletic career, Daniels jumped at the opportunity to represent Connecticut in the All-New England All-Star Game, held at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. The Connecticut/New York team was held without a goal, as the New Jersey/Pennsylvania defense played stoutly for much of the match, until Daniels scored an incredible goal to put his team on the board. When the lights are the brightest, Daniels certainly shines..

His acrobatic finish brought on attention from collegiate programs, the only problem was that Daniels’ high school academic performances were not nearly as impressive as his athletic ones. With limited opportunities, Will elected to attend NCAA Division III Mount Ida College.

While Daniels only played at Mount Ida for one season, his lone campaign with the Mustangs, was a memorable one. Daniels led his team with 10 goals, and was named a First-Team All-Conference player. Recognizing that professional opportunities may be limited for a Division III player, Will began exploring a move to a bigger college.

In the Fall of 2010, Will enrolled at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. It didn’t take long for Will to showcase his clutch nature. As a junior, Daniels scored two game winning goals, including an overtime winner against St. Francis University. After establishing himself as a consistent goal-scorer at every level he had played at, Daniels was ready to try his hand at the professional game. In 2013, Daniels joined NPSL side Kitsap Pumas.

Based out of Bremerton, Washington, Kitsap offered Will his first shot at playing post-collegiate soccer. While Daniels’ stint with the Pumas was brief (he joined PDL club West Mass Pioneers F.C, after one season in Bremerton), he did have the opportunity to compete against high level teams, such as the University of Washington Huskies and the Seattle Sounders U-23’s.

In 2014, Will joined West Mass Pioneers, and immediately proved to be one of the best players on the squad. After impressing the coaching staff, Will knew he was destined for bigger things, and turned towards his next dream: playing professional soccer internationally.

With the help of Soccer Viza’s Joe Funicello, Daniels earned a contract with Icelandic club Knattspyrnufélagið Ægir. In signing with Ægir, Will signed off on moving to a small Icelandic town (the town of Þorlákshöfn has less than 2,000 permanent residents), speaking a foreign language, and experiencing a completely alien culture. The move was a culture shock to say the least, but Will immediately proved that he belonged. In his lone season with Ægir, Will was named team MVP, and flourished into a top-five scorer in the league. The rest of the nation took notice.

In the Spring of 2016, Daniels made the jump to a bigger club, signing with Grindavík FC. In his first season with Grindavík, Daniels scored 6 goals in just 17 games, helping his club earn a promotion to the Icelandic Premier League. In his first full season with Grindavík, Daniels helped the team to a 5th place finish in Iceland’s top league. The club finished just 4 points shy of a Europa League bid. This past season, Will proved to be a consistent starter in Iceland’s top league, playing full 90s in almost half of Grindavík’s league games. Daniels has showcased his positional flexibility, moving to a wing-back position in Grindavík’s 3-5-2.

Late in the 2017-2018 campaign, Daniels was finally given the opportunity to play forward, predictably enough, Daniels performed. In a three game stretch, between late August and September, Will scored goals in three straight games, including the team’s lone goal in a draw against Kópavogur based club, Breidablik. Grindavík ultimately took a step back this season, finishing in 10th in the league, but Daniels certainly took a step forward in his individual play.        

As Will continues to explore his options for the upcoming season (Daniels has a number of options in Iceland’s first division, as well as interest from numerous Swedish clubs), one thing is clear: Will Daniels will always show up when it matters most…