When Great Neck North’s Julien Hakimian took the pitch against Garden City, he was facing a high-octane scorer in J.P. Basile and a potent offense.
But over 80 minutes, his composure and awareness showed as the teams played to a scoreless draw after an early attack by Garden City turned into a more even back and forth match of close chances and opportunities at Garden City High School Monday.
“We had a lot of discipline in the back,” Hakimian, a centerback, said. “We didn’t get as many chances up top as we would like, but I think we packed it in together well.”
The senior controlled a methodical defense with decisive decisions and long throw-ins that turned away threatening Garden City (1-0-1) runs and smooth passing. Still, Garden City kept the ball in Great Neck North’s (1-0-2) half for a seven-minute stretch early in the first, but after that, it became a back and forth game with runs for both.
“They’re a tough team,” Hakimian said. “Any point we can get, it’s good.”
Garden City had its moments with free kicks from Kristian Tomasic and John Skahill from midfield that cleared the defense and entered the box, but couldn’t find the net in the end.
“We played some good balls over the top,” Skahill said. “If we could just maybe get luckier with bounces and stuff we’d maybe get some more chances.”
Great Neck North’s Charlie Hakimi took a daring run from the left side through the endline before being abruptly stopped.
Despite the stingy line, Basile still facilitated and found gaps down the touchlines. The senior, who came in with four goals over three games, moved the ball forward with athleticism and headers. Still, Great Neck didn’t let him break the wall.
Both teams came away with satisfaction at grabbing a draw in the midst of challenging schedules. And while dealing with a long season and drawn-out games, the method behind steady defense could keep an entire season under control.
“We have to keep on going forward,” Hakimian said. “Playing game by game.”