There is heartbreak, and then there is heartbreak.
The Archbishop Carney Stars can be excused for having a case of both.
The senior AA boys soccer team rallied to force extra time, and forced their B.C. championship final with the Okanagan Mission Huskies to penalty kicks before falling 2-1 at Burnaby Lakes Complex on Wednesday.
It was just Carney's second loss of the season, but this one will resonate for a long time.
"It's the most frustrating part of soccer - in a shootout there's no chance to counter," said Carney coach Mate Zvicer. "It just comes down to who misses first."
Under chilly, wet conditions, both teams appeared determined not to make a mistake - while not letting the gruelling five-games-in-three-days schedule show.
Scoreless at the half, Okanagan's Andrew Stevenson knocked in the first goal early in the second frame with a low header that eluded the Stars netminder. The Huskies established a bit of momentum off that goal, but the tide turned when Carney pushed forward, with a couple of good scoring opportunities falling short.
In the 70th minute Carney cashed in the equalizer, as Bryan Cadman blasted in a rebound off a Mike West shot to tie it.
The PoCo school then continued their attack, missing wide on a couple of good crosses.
"Our strategy to start the second half was to pick up the pace on these guys, move the ball and be more aggressive," noted Zvicer. "It was a rough start because they got that goal, which was more us pressing too much."
The game plan would produce the tying goal and allowed for a couple of other scoring opportunities before regulation ended.
In two 10-minute overtime sessions, neither team could bury the winner, resulting in penalty kicks to decide a provincial champion.
It also put the players in charge - as they gathered on the field with the first five shooters selected by the coaches, followed by who stepped up next.
"We made sure to have the first five guys selected [to shoot], but after that it was just the players. We [coaches] weren't allowed on the field, so there was no chance for a final pep talk or anything."
On their first shot, Carney rang it off the crossbar. Miraculously, the Huskies first shot was tipped wide by a diving Cole Dowling to set the stage for a marathon showdown.
From that point, each shooter hit the back of the net until the Stars' seventh shooter shot wide.
For a brief moment, Okanagan keeper Mike Sexton raced out of his crease to celebrate a provincial victory, forgetting that his squad still needed to score to salt it away.
Jesse Nanci did just that, sparking a huge pile-on for the victorious - and undefeated Huskies.
"It was a tremendous game, I give [Carney] full credit for playing us very tough," noted Okanagan coach Tony Overton. "This was a season to remember, we didn't lose once and [Carney's] goal was the first goal we gave up in this tournament."
It was a tough loss, but Zvicer was pleased with his team's performance.
"Really, we did everything we could... Hat's off to Okanagan - they played a great game. They lined up in a 4-5-1 and it was a strategy they really stuck to. They knew when to pass, they knew when to press."
It was only the second loss of the season for the Stars, who advanced to the championship final with a dramatic 1-0 win over Cariboo Hill. A goal by Jorge Brizuela on the final play of the game was the difference.
Earlier, the Fraser Valley champions had racked up victories over DP Todd (5-0), Gulf Islands (2-0) and Summerland (1-0) to move on to the semifinals.
Carney's Michael North was among the Golden Boot winners, while Cadman was named to the Commissioners 11.