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Norwalk's Daniels' season is among Ohio's best

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Oct 15, 2019 at 11:48 PM

NORWALK — By her own admission, Nyah Daniels didn’t openly gravitate to the sport of soccer.

It’s an ironic revelation, given how much the Norwalk girls soccer sophomore consistently drifts toward the net for the Truckers.

Before her second varsity season concludes, Daniels is already among the top scorers in Ohio girls soccer history.

Her 40 goals in 16 matches for Norwalk (12-2-2) not only smashed the single-season program record — but puts Daniels as one of 43 players in the unofficial Ohio High School Athletic Association record book to score 40-plus goals in a single season.

“My parents wanted me to do something extra-curricular, some type of sport,” said Nyah, the daughter of Phillip and Amber. “I was only five when I started playing. It’s not something I willingly wanted to do … I kind of had to be forced to go out. But I’ve certainly loved soccer once I started playing.”

Needless to say, Daniels has been the one doing the pushing on her opponents for several years. Entering Saturday’s Division II sectional semifinal match vs. Clear Fork, she has 63 career goals through two varsity seasons.

With Norwalk in the middle of a three-year unbeaten streak in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division matches, Daniels figures to get even more attention.

 

Quiet force

Daniels spent her infancy years playing with friend and current Norwalk teammate Lana Oglesby. But her earliest memories of playing with Oglesby doesn’t necessarily revolve around a goal scored in a match.

“We’d always yell and argue with each other — we both always had to be right,” Daniels said.

From Oglesby’s perspective, Daniels became a force when she began steadily playing with her current club team — the Cleveland Force Soccer Club in Bedford Heights.

“Nyah was always really skilled, but when she went off to club she got really good,” Oglesby said. “And before that even, she was always really fast and tried to score. She’s never not attacked the net.”

While admittedly uncomfortable in the spotlight, Daniels is the exact opposite on the field.

“You see her personality come out with her friends, but she’s a woman of few words — with a lot of action on the field,” Norwalk head coach Michelle Sandor said. “Put the ball at her feet, and good things are going to happen. Nyah is going to take people on … it’s what she wants to do and what she is good at.”

Last season, Daniels scored 23 goals and had just one assist. This season, she’s got five assists to go with the 40 goals scored entering Saturday.

“It’s been interesting to see her change from last year in that regard,” Sandor said. “Partly because she’s so fast, it’s hard for people to keep up with her, and partly because it’s not her game. She wants to take people on, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s amazing what she does and very few people … I have not seen another player at our level play the way she does.”

Daniels’ speed and attacking abilities have made her a tough guard for teams.

“She’s just super quick with the ball at her feet,” Sandor said. “The ability to beat people one-on-one is what she does well. We call it breaking ankles. She makes people look silly out there. I refuse to defend her in practice because she’ll make me look silly, too.

“But that is her first thought when she gets the ball — taking people on,” she added. “Then looking to pass or shoot after that. But sometimes we’ll joke because she’ll take someone on, then stop and go back and beat them again instead of beating them once and moving on.”

 

Room to grow

Daniels has blasted the old single-season mark of 32 goals held by Lauren Woods (2000) and Kaeyln Harkness (2017). On track to be a four-time SBC Lake Division first team selection, she will likely be voted the top player in the division next week.

On the field, with a solid combination of defense, Norwalk was 13-3-1 last season. That makes the Truckers a combined 25-5-3 record through Daniels’ first two varsity seasons, with back-to-back league championships.

But ask Daniels about the scoring record, and it was a simple, five-word answer: “I worked hard for it.”

Bring up the success of the team, and Daniels opens up — just a bit more.

“I have goals, which is to continue to help my team win,” she said. “Eventually I’d like to play in college, maybe Division I … but right now the goal is to win our next game.”

Oglesby does her best to bring out Daniels’ personality, though she insists off the field she is anything but quiet, if not a little goofy.

“She just gets quiet when a little attention gets put on her,” Oglesby said. “Nyah is hard-working. In practice, if she wants to get something done for the team or herself, she’ll work really hard.

“She’s intense and motivates her teammates to be better, too,” she added. “Nyah definitely hates losing.”

Meanwhile, Sandor continues be impressed by not only the abilities of Daniels, but what it means for the rest of the team for the next two-plus years.

“We’ve had great players who have made me look like a good coach since I’ve been here,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed with that. But Nyah is that player who, if you need a goal — get the ball in front of her feet. She is the player you count on to at least make good things happen.

“Even if she doesn’t score, she’ll create good opportunities for us and make teams defend us differently,” Sandor added. “She draws double teams and sometimes even triple teams. It definitely has an affect on each and every game, even if she’s not scoring.”

 

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Norwalk program records (1999-2019)

Single-season goals

1. Nyah Daniels, 40 (2019)

2. Kaelyn Harkness, 32 (2017)

2. Brooke Seitz, 32 (2006)

4. Lauren Woods, 27 (2000)

4. Lisa Patusky, 27 (2007)

4. Lisa Patusky, 27 (2008)

7. Lauren Woods, 26 (2003)

7. Lisa Patusky, 26 (2006)

7. Kaelyn Harkness, 26 (2015)

10. Lauren Woods, 25 (2002)

Career goals

1. Lauren Woods, 102 (2000-03)

2. Lisa Patusky, 101 (2006-09)

3. Kaelyn Harkness, 77 (2014-17)

4. Brooke Sietz, 71 (2003-06)

5. Nyah Daniels, 63 (2018-present)

6. Katie May, 58 (2005-08)

7. Laurel Campbell, 51 (2011-14)

8. Caroline Blackwood, 50 (2008-11)

9. Jayna McClain, 39 (1999-01)

10. Kim Codeluppi, 29 (1999-01)

Norwalk Reflector Videos