by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
GRANTHAM, Penn. – A second half hat trick from Nick West gave the defending national champion Messiah Falcons a victory over the Whitworth Pirates Saturday afternoon.
The loss drops Whitworth to 0-2 on the year while top-ranked Messiah is now 1-0-1.
The Falcons were on the attack from the match's outset, but many of their early opportunities were stifled by goalkeeper Jesus Nunez and the Whitworth defense.
The Falcons first true chance came in the ninth minute. Lucas Kokolios loosed a curling shot from the left side of the penalty box, but Nunez found himself in front of the shot and made the save to keep the match scoreless.
Whitworth followed the save with its lone shot on goal of the first half. Drew Williams' shot was stopped however and the Bucs wouldn't be able to get another shot on goal for the remainder of the first 45 minutes.
The Pirates had trouble creating opportunities in large part because the Falcons maintained much of the possession throughout the match, especially the first half.
As a result of maintaining most of the half's possession, Messiah finished the first half with a 19-2 lead in shots and a 6-1 advantage in shots on goal. Nunez's work in goal during the half consisted of six saves.
The Falcon offense broke through in the 65th minute. Nick West outraced a Pirate defender to a long through ball and buried his first goal of the season. Luke Brautigam earned the assist with the through ball.
Whitworth continued to battle, but West struck again in the 81st minute and for a third time in the 85th, essentially putting the game away with the two goals.
Thanks in part to West's eight shots and five shots on goal, Messiah finished the match with large advantages in shots (32-8) and shots on goal (13-4). Chase Reidt, Azzam Azzam, and Sam McKay contributed the Pirates three shots on goal in the second half.
Next up, the Pirates finish their Pennsylvania road trip with a trip to Franklin & Marshall on Monday, Sept. 3. The match is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. (PDT).