With the playoffs around the corner, Marist Coach Sean Maxwell knows his team won’t get rattled in a close game.

The RedHawks have plenty of experience this year competing in tight matchups.

Through 19 games, 10 games have been decided by a single goal.

Two more were decided by a mere 2 goals.

Marist improved to 8-7-2 and 5-3 with an efficient 5-0 home win on Oct. 6 over Joliet Catholic Academy (JCA) in East Suburban Catholic Conference (ESCC) action.

The RedHawks followed up the JCA win with wins over Providence and St. Viator to bump their overall record to 10-7-2, 6-3 in the ESCC.

“It’s been one of those seasons. Eight could easily be 12, but we’re moving in the right direction as we’re heading to the playoffs,” Maxwell said. “Those one-goal losses definitely stick with you, but I like what I’ve seen.”

Marist earned the top-seed at its own Class 2A sectional. The RedHawks will open the state playoffs on Oct. 19 in a regional semifinal against Morgan Park at Providence Catholic.

The Marian Catholic/Providence winner awaits in the regional championship.

As for that overall record hovering around .500, senior A.J. Dix is extremely confident in the team’s ability.

“Personally, of course, I’m a little biased,” Dix said with a laugh. “But, I think we have played better than our record. We have a strong team, strong core. Our bench guys come out, and they’re super strong, too.”

In the JCA win, seniors Aydan Wilson, Bryson Roberts and Marc Carreon and juniors Danny Olsen and Christian Chavez scored a goal each.

Senior Liam Bennett had 2 assists, and senior Juan Jacinto and Wilson each added an assist. Goalies Vincent Tuminello and Maximiliano Perez recorded the shutout.

Wilson and Roberts scored in the first half for Marist. Carreon, Olsen and Chavez scored their 3 goals in a four-minute span early in the second half.

“Today gives us some confidence. We know we can put the ball in the back of the net,” said senior defender Brendan Chesniak. “As a unit and the bench, we can do our thing. We’re a special team.”

Dix liked the team’s offensive output in the JCA win.

“We’ve lacked that finishing touch at times scoring,” Dix said. “We’ve been cleaning it up as we’ve gone through our games. Today was nice to finally hit the back of the net a few times and earn some goals we’ve been working toward all season.”

Navigating an always-tough ESCC schedule this season, Marist beat Nazareth 2-1, St. Patrick 2-1, Marian Catholic 3-2 in overtime, Marian Central Catholic 4-0 in addition to the JCA win.

The RedHawks lost to typical conference powers Benet 3-2, Carmel 2-1 and Notre Dame 2-1.

“Those big games, the close games against teams like Benet and in the ESCC, we needed to learn from our mistakes,” Chesniak said. “We needed to take those losses as something that helps us to improve and gets us ready for the playoffs.”

Marist has played stingy defense all season, giving up 29 goals while scoring 45.

“It’s been the midfield and defense talking back and forth and working together,” Chesniak said. “We’re trying our best not to let any shots in. We don’t want to worry about the sectional or state. We want to keep moving as a team.”