David Hadjibay knows his Great Neck North soccer teammates well. Really well, actually. He even knows the tendencies of the guys who don't get much playing time.
Take freshman Julian Hakimian, for example.
A couple of weeks ago, Hakimian got into a game for a throw in. He threw the ball as far he could. It landed near the far post of the net. No one was able to score on that play.
Hadjibay remembered it Wednesday when Hakimian attempted a throw-in with about four minutes left against South Side. This time Hadjibay was prepared.
Hakimian tossed the ball near the far post, where Hadjibay was waiting. Hadjibay, behind a scrum of players, received the ball and snuck it into the net for the winner as Great Neck North edged South Side, 2-1.
"I was thinking he was going to do the exact same thing again, so I went to the back post," said Hadjibay, who would fare well in a "How Well Do You Know Your Teammate?" game show, if such a game show existed.
Sure enough, Hadjibay was right.
"That was the best feeling ever," Hadjibay said. "I told Julian afterward that I was expecting him to throw it right there, but I wasn't sure because of the wind. But he did it, and I was there to put it in."
Hakimian's reply to Hadjibay was succinct: "Thank you for being there."
To remain in first place in Conference A-I, Great Neck North (8-1-1) overcame a 1-0 deficit at halftime. Matthew Bohn scored for South Side (5-4-1) with six minutes left in the first half.
"Them scoring actually energized us," GNN midfielder Johnny Monahemi said. "We realized we have to protect our house. We're not losing here. We can't lose here."
Monahemi tied it at 1 when he cashed in from close range off a good-looking cross from Nick Garzon midway through the second half.
Hadjibay said beating South Side, a perennial contender, cements GNN's status heading into the playoffs.
"In the playoffs, there are no second chances," Hadjibay said. "This proves we can win under pressure. I knew we could today, and I know we can keep doing it."
That's from someone who knows his team pretty well.