Nick West Wins National Division III Soccer Title

Nick West was at full strength in Saturday’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III championship game in Greensboro, N.C.
Nick West has a lot more facial hair now than he did when he led East Hampton High’s boys soccer team to the state’s Final Four in 2014. Craig Macnaughton

When last Nick West was at a final — at the 2014 state boys soccer championships in Middletown — he was on crutches, having suffered a broken foot in a semifinal the day before.

That he was at full strength in Saturday’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III championship game in Greensboro, N.C., made Messiah’s 2-1 win over Chicago’s North Park University all the more thrilling, his mother, Christine Tulp, said on her return here, especially given the fact that Messiah had lost its conference’s championship game to Lycoming.

A two-time all-state player when he was at East Hampton High School, West played on the left wing in the national tournament. 

He figured prominently in both games played at Greensboro, assisting on one of the Falcons’ three goals in Friday’s come-from-behind 3-2 double-overtime semifinal win over Brandeis, and assisting on one in the final, a header by Justin Brautigam into the right corner that converted West’s cross from the left side in the 10th minute. That goal tied the score at 1-1, North Park having stunned Messiah with a goal of its own, on a shot taken from the top of the box, with barely five minutes gone.

It was the 11th national title for the Harrisburg-area school, which has largely been invincible since the turn of the century.

Coming from behind in the semifinal and final rounds was a first for the Falcons, who are not used to playing catch-up. 

An account on the school’s website said the Brandeis game “may rank among the best in Messiah lore,” the Falcons having to come back on two occasions before putting the hard-fought victory away in the second overtime period. 

West’s high-bouncing header into the middle that his high-scoring teammate, Kirby Robbins, converted with a rocketed sidekick tied the score at 2-2 with 10 minutes left in regulation. 

The first O.T. was scoreless. “As the clock ticked under six minutes in the second,” the website account said, “Brautigam launched a shot from 24 yards out that went under Brandeis’s crossbar for a stunning game-winner. . . . It was only the 10th time in 103 N.C.A.A. tournament games that Messiah had allowed two goals to an opponent.”

A threat whenever he’s got the ball, West, who finished the season with 14 goals (second on the team in that category) and 7 assists, was named the offensive player of the tournament.

The junior business and sports marketing major has been a starter since arriving at Messiah. He played in all 26 of Messiah’s games this fall. The national champions finished at 24-2 over all. 

West is from an athletic family. His older brother, Brandon, played at Messiah (winning national titles as its goalie in 2012 and ’13) and coached there before becoming the women’s soccer coach at Eastern University, which is outside Philadelphia, and his older sister, Ashley, a graduate of Susquehanna University, where she was an all-American, is running professionally now with the University of Connecticut’s track club. Brandon and Ashley were there in Greensboro to see him play, as were his mother, father, and stepfather.

It wasn’t easy, even playing for Messiah, to win a national championship, he said in answer to a question.