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Senior goalkeeper remains one of lone bright spots in difficult season for Rutgers

<p>Senior goalkeeper David Greczek will finish his career as Rutgers' all-time saves leader with 367 in four years on the Banks.</p>

Senior goalkeeper David Greczek will finish his career as Rutgers' all-time saves leader with 367 in four years on the Banks.

When David Greczek first stepped foot in Piscataway, he knew it was where he wanted to spend his collegiate years playing the game he loves for the Rutgers men's soccer team.

“When I went through the committing process and I came to Rutgers and I saw the campus, the coaching staff, the players (and) the facilities, I was just mesmerized by it," he said. "I thought it was a great fit to come here. I’m very happy I came here.”

Flip the table and head coach Dan Donigan, the man who recruited the young, bright star, will tell you he saw traits in him that ultimately made him reach out and extend the Fairfield, New Jersey, native a scholarship offer.

“I just saw a presence of him just standing in goal. I thought he had a maturity about him and I thought his feet were phenomenal,” Donigan said. “That’s a skillset I expect my keepers to have if they’re gonna be our number one. You have to have good technical skills, and his feet are unbelievable, they’re just as good as some guys on the field.”

The fact Greczek didn’t choose to be a goalkeeper when he was younger adds to how impressive his skillset really is. 

He first played in the position that he excelled at on the Banks when he was 7 years old. A youth coach assigned him in net when the team's usual goalkeeper didn’t show up to a match, an event that triggered a 14-year career in which he reached the heights of becoming Rutgers' all-time saves leader.

“At U-14, I took it seriously and then U-16, it became an actual reality for me to have the potential to eventually, hopefully, play professional soccer,” Greczek said. “But I knew that college soccer was gonna be one way to get me to the pros.”

But the fact Greczek started playing soccer wasn’t as casual as the way he found his current position.

His father, Christopher Greczek, was a national champion in his career at Kean University and his uncle had a successful career at Monmouth University. 

“It’s always been in the family roots to play soccer so I was kinda raised in it,” Greczek said. “I think it’s just having that ability to put on the cleats and come to training and just be excited to be at training is what it makes it enjoyable to me ... it’s always been in (my family's) blood I would say.”

The work ethic and determination is something seen by everyone he plays with, including teammates who understand what he has meant to this team.

“He’s the first one here and the last to leave every single time,” said senior midfielder Ross Tetro. “(It’s) exactly what we would want our leader to be. His freshman year, you can tell he just had the natural abilities.”

Donigan will back the hard work and toughness Greczek displays, constantly putting in solid shifts in training despite the grueling demands of his position.

“I can’t remember a day where he’s taken a day off,” Donigan said. “You gotta be very careful with these guys the way they train, a lot of diving progressions and hitting the ground, hips and shoulder and upper body stuff, so you gotta be very careful how you (maintain) those guys through your day-to-day training, but I can't remember a day where that kid's taken off in four years.”

Although Rutgers has only won one game this season, the stats he has compiled in his time on the Banks doesn’t do the 2016 record justice.

In his freshman year, Greczek started all 20 games, accumulated a 1.23 GAA and recorded 108 saves, which is currently third on the single-season saves list. The remarkable freshman season pinned him a spot on the Second-Team All-American Athletic Conference.

In Greczek's sophomore season, he led the Big Ten in saves per game at 4.71. That season included 80 saves in 16 games started and a 2.05 GAA.

Fast-forward to his junior season and Greczek made the All-Big Ten second team honors registering eight shutouts that season, most by a Knights player since 1998. He collected 83 saves and held a GAA of 1.38.

Currently in his senior campaign, he is second nationally in saves with 96. In 16 games, he’s started this season he has garnered a 2.43 GAA.

With a play-in-game against Michigan looming on Saturday, this weekend may be Greczek’s last time to put on a Rutgers uniform. But in Donigan’s eyes, he is far from the end of his career. 

In fact, he may be just beginning.

“I think no question, he is a (Major League Soccer) prospect and he’s gonna have a future in professional soccer,” Donigan said. “I think he’s that good. Like I said, I’ve had some really good ones, guys that have played at the highest level and I’d put him up there against any of them.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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