Nick West’s Aim Is Usually True

Messiah College has won 11 national soccer titles
Nick West, a former East Hampton High School star, had 19 goals to his credit in 11 games as of earlier this week. Messiah College Athletics

Nick West, who, had he not suffered a broken foot in a semifinal win, would have provided East Hampton High School’s boys soccer team with considerably more firepower in its 2014 state final versus Rochester’s Greece Athena, which the Bonackers lost 4-2, has been the collegiate men’s soccer scoring leader — that’s D-III, D-II, and D-I — in the nation this fall.

A senior at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., winner of 11 national Division III championships, West plays target, or the striker position, now, and has been averaging almost two goals a game, though as was made evident in a telephone conversation Monday, he’s not really keeping track.

Likewise, he’s not thinking too far ahead when it comes to Messiah’s possibly winning back-to-back national championships or about possibly playing professionally some day. 

Messiah’s coach, Brad McCarty, said in an email Friday that he’s most impressed by “the percentage of shots that he puts on goal. Many targets put around 25 percent of their shots on goal, but Nick, who can receive the ball with his back to the goal, is currently 44-for-63, for a shots-on-goal percentage of 69.8.”

The college’s gomessiah.com website has numerous videos in which he appears prominently, including one from earlier in the season in which he netted a hat trick.

West scored his 19th goal in Saturday’s Middle Atlantic Conference game with Albright, on a through ball in the 54th minute. His was one of four goals the Falcons scored that night on the way to a shutout win. It was McCarty’s 200th victory as Messiah’s head coach.

Rich King, West’s coach when he was a student here, who now coaches East Hampton High’s golf team, said that while it was tremendous that the former Bonacker led the nation in scoring, he, frankly, wasn’t surprised. As for his playing professionally some day — it’s an ambition that his mother, Kristen Tulp, harbors for him — “I think Nick can do anything he sets his mind on doing.”

West was the national tournament’s most valuable offensive player last year. His older brother, Brandon, who now coaches the women’s soccer team at Eastern University in Philadelphia, has two national championship rings, dating to Messiah’s 2013 and ’14 seasons. “Nick’s hoping to tie him,” Tulp said during a conversation Friday at the John M. Marshall Elementary School, where she teaches.

Tulp, who used to drive her son to frequent travel team practices and games in Nassau County, has gone to just about all of her son’s games, most of which are played throughout the state of Pennsylvania. “I’ll be bored next year,” she said, with a laugh.

As for his being the nation’s scoring leader, “It’s quite an accomplishment, and he’s not even done yet.” Five conference games remained for the Falcons as of Monday, after which come the MAC playoffs. The team was 10-0-2 as of earlier this week.

“He’s hoping to go pro,” she said, in answer to a question, “but he’s very humble and won’t say it out loud. There’ve been some people there at his games.”

His older brother was “thrilled beyond belief,” she added. 

When this writer mentioned the broken foot — obviously healed long ago — his mother said, “That wasn’t all — in his sophomore year he broke his arm in a go-kart accident that severed his radial nerve. He’s got titanium in it. Randi [Cherill, East Hampton High’s former trainer] put him back together. . . . He’s risen above a few challenges.”

“Nick has been a standard-bearer for his work ethic since he arrived here as a freshman, and continues to provide this team with leadership both on and off the field,” McCarty said in the aforementioned email. “He was integral to our N.C.A.A. Division III national championship run last year, with 14 goals and seven assists. He was named the Final Four’s offensive most valuable player. This fall we moved him from left wing to target, and he has been tremendous. With his [18th] goal last night he broke a Messiah College record by scoring in nine straight games.”