Original article written by Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer for Tampa Bay Times
ODESSA — Academy at the Lakes was after something more than just a playoff appearance when the season started. After all, the Wildcats are on a decade-long postseason streak.
What they were after was a trip to the state semifinals.
To do that, AATL knew it had to get past its biggest nemesis. The Wildcats have lost Canterbury in the playoffs each of the past five seasons. Even AATL’s only state semifinal appearance ended with a loss to the Crusaders in 2013.
The Wildcats beat Canterbury three straight times this season, outscoring their rival by a combined 17-4. But AATL still had to do it when it mattered most.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats got what they wanted, vanquishing their greatest tormentor with a 5-1 victory in the region final. AATL faces Lake Worth Christian in the Class 2A state semifinals on May 16 in Vero Beach.
“This is the greatest feeling,” Wildcats ace Alexis Kilfoyl said. “Our goal, really the only one we had, was to get to the state final four. But we knew we had to get it done against Canterbury.”
AATL (24-4) started to have some breakthroughs last season, beating the Crusaders twice, including the district final. But Canterbury ended up winning the region final en route to its third state title in five seasons.