MARS HILL, N.C. -- Catawba goalie Michael Pecchia posted 25 saves to help Catawba knock off 10th-ranked Mars Hill 9-7 in the semifinals of the Deep South tournament on Thursday night. Catawba improves to 13-2, setting a school record for wins in a season. The Lions fall to 11-3.

It marked the second consecutive year the Indians had topped the North’s top-seed to advance to the final. The win sets up a rematch of last years final between Catawba and Florida Southern, an 11-7 victor against Tampa.  

Catawba was defeated easily by Mars Hill in the regular season match-up, trailing 13-2 at one point before falling 16-10. On Thursday, Pecchia, who missed the first game with an injury, stopped nine shots in the first quarter as Catawba led 2-1. Mars Hill took the lead with a pair of goals early in the second quarter and held a 5-4 edge at the break following a tally by Ryan Sage just 29 seconds before the half.

The Indians took charge in the third quarter with three unanswered goals. John Scheich and Tom Cullop scored 45 seconds apart to give the Indians a lead with 8:41 to go in the third quarter. Catawba went on to add three more goals in the five-goal spurt that pushed the margin to 9-5 with 7:13 remaining. Cade Zulak scored twice for the Lions in the final five minutes, but the Indians had built a cushion that Mars Hill could not overcome.

Braden Artem scored four goals to pace the offense. Scheich added three assists to his goal. Cullop handed out two helpers. Zulak had a pair of goals for Mars Hill. Dan Applebaum and Blake Mattinson each had a goal and an assist. Dylan Price recorded 13 saves for the Lions.

Catawba topped Florida Southern 10-8 for the tournament title last year, the first DSC Championship for the Indians. The Moccasins won the first meeting this year between the teams, 13-8.