Ryan Grund kicks the ball during an October 2017 game against Lawrence High School. (File photo by Suzette J. Lucas.)

Gavin Grecsek and Ryan Grund are connected closely to each other and to West Windsor-Plainsboro High South.

The cousins were born three days apart to a brother and sister who also competed athletically for Pirate teams.

“We could be considered brothers,” Grecsek said. “I’m at his house every day. He’s at my house every day. We see each other every day.”

It’s been that way for as long as they can remember.

“Forever,” Grund said. “We’d always go to my grandmother’s house too because she lives right next to me.”

The boys remain together athletically. They are in their senior year and will serve as two of the three captains for the South boys’ soccer team in their last scholastic season.

“Playing on the same team is fun and we push each other,” Grecsek said. “If he scores a goal, then I have to score a goal. It’s pretty competitive when we’re playing on the same team. I like that.”

Grecsek is in his second year starting for the Pirates. He will join Grund, a four-year starter, in the midfield for WW-P South.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this season with him,” Grund said. “We have a lot of young players we have to look after to get them going, but it should be fun.”

It’s also been fun for their families to follow the two through school together. Grecsek’s father, Jerry Grecsek, was a standout player for the Pirates in the mid-1980s.

Gavin Grecsek keeps the ball away from an opponent from Lawrence High School during a game in October 2017. (File photo by Suzette J. Lucas.)

“He played at West Windsor,” Grecsek said. “I know he broke a few records and he was kind of an all-star. He’s still considered a legend. My dad and his brother both played so I kind of have them to look up to.”

Jerry’s brother, David, was also a well-remembered soccer player for the Pirates. They both went on to play for The College of New Jersey.

“Their team went to nationals,” said Grecsek, who has TCNJ high on his list of colleges to attend. “They were pretty good. I’m trying to follow in their footsteps.”

Grund’s mother, Pam (nee Grecsek) Grund, was a field hockey player then for the Pirates. She now follows the soccer team as one of their biggest fans.

“It’s great,” Grund said. “My mom loves the environment at South. She comes to pretty much every game. My uncle has been looking forward to us going to high school for a while now. He’s so supportive, it’s great. It’s a lot of fun having South alumni in the family.”

The two cousins bring their parents and family back full circle to root for the Pirates.

“It’s neat,” said Pirates ninth-year head coach Bryan Fisher. “We have a lot of history on our side.”

Grecsek and Grund are hoping to make more history in their final season together. Jerry and David Grecsek earned the school’s first division banner for the Pirates in 1985. The cousins are hoping they can repeat it.

“In my dad’s senior year, he picked No. 21 and scored 21 goals,” Grecsek said. “This year, I’m going to follow the same thing so hopefully I’ll have the same success as him.”

The cousins are looking forward to a final season together. “It’s great,” Grund said. “Especially last year when we played against Steinert together, that was a really cool experience. We both scored and that was probably one of the best games we had together.”

The two will be leaders for a WW-P South team that is talking reloading more than rebuilding even after graduating 15 seniors, including the CVC’s top scoring forward in Ramses Moore-McGuinness and best defender in Luke Hansen.

“We graduated some big guys and they’re off to great college careers,” Fisher said. “That’s high school. You have guys come through and get them prepared for college and then it’s the next group.”

“I’m excited for this group,” he added. “It’s definitely a different mentality for this year. You have guys in new spots and guys that have grown in your program and now get a chance to play varsity. It’s now their turn. We kind of knew what we had last year. There’s a bit of an unknown this year. The one thing we know is they’re excited and ready to contribute to Pirate soccer.”

The Pirate soccer roster this year includes: Felipe Faria, Grecsek, Grund, Leo Hecht, Gordon Hesterberg, Austin Hodges, Elijah Moore-McGuinness, Vishnu Muniappan, Ganesh Selvanathan, Jude Ferri, Tegveer Gill, Vedant Balyan Singh, Zac Chadehumbe, Aadil Makkar, Luke Potts, Connor Staples, James Mattison, Andy Bea, Griffin Bruno, Dan Grund, Eddie Haemmerle, Zoumana Konate, Suhith Nandyala, Pedro Portilla, and Shane Dowling. The veterans are paving the way for the new contributors.

“It’s just having them play as much as they can with us,” Grecsek said. “We play at a pretty competitive level on varsity, so them just playing against that, they’ll learn it’s not JV or freshman. It’s different from club, but I think just playing experience is going to help them.”

Grecsek and Grund, whose younger brother Dan is also on the team, two of a trio of captains along with Elijah Moore-McGuinness that has set the pace. They are also part of a talented midfield that is the backbone of the South team. Hecht returns from his Red Bulls Academy team to give the Pirates a big boost, and Ferri is a junior that brings an established presence to the midfield.

“Our midfield is heavily senior laden which is comforting,” Fisher said. “The rest of the group are basically new guys to varsity. We’re banking on our midfield being the strongest part of our team, for leadership as well. We have new guys running up top and new guys in the back. So far we’ve had a pretty good preseason.”

The Pirates are hoping to carry their good preseason through to another strong regular season. Last year, they finished 13-5-1 and reached the Mercer County Tournament final.

“We definitely look to have a great year again,” Grund said. “I think a lot of kids are starting to step up, especially from younger groups. I’m holding everyone to the same standards we were at last year. I don’t want this season to be anything different actually. I think we have a lot of talent and we can get very far with the team we have.”

The Pirates turned over much of their defense as well as their goalie and their offense. There is plenty of opportunity for new varsity players and others to increase their roles.

“Obviously we’re missing our forward, Ramses, he was killer up top,” Grund said. “We’re looking for a new striker. His brother is filling that spot at the moment and he’s doing really well. In terms of our back line, we’re still working on that. We have a lot of new kids—a lot of juniors and sophomores coming up—and they’re doing well so far in preseason and I’ve been impressed.”

The Pirates will need an offensive boost from the midfield, and both Grecsek and Grund see themselves trying to be more aggressive with scoring chances.

“We should be able to retain as much in the midfield as possible and we have outlets up top,” said Grund, who played a more defensive central midfielder role a year ago. “We’re figuring out how we’re going to work the midfield in the preseason and so far it’s looking solid. The midfield is the key for us.”

The two are making the most of their final season together. They are looking at different colleges to continue their playing careers, but have one last chance to start and lead together at a school that’s been special to their families.

“Every time I step on the field,” Grecsek said, “I just know that I’m following in my dad’s footsteps and I have expectations to fill.”