Certain the World Cup was within their reach, the U.S. women's soccer team was stunned Sunday by a 3-1 loss to Japan in the finals.
"There are really no words," U.S. soccer player Abby Wambach said. "We were so close."
The American team dominated the game Sunday, but struggled to connect with the goal.
In the second half the U.S. finally scored, but Japan quickly answered, tying it up. Both teams went on to score again, sending the game into overtime.
But in the end, penalty kicks cost the American women the game.
"It's hard to do two rounds of penalties," Wambach said. "The keeper, in a way, knows which way we're going to go."
For Japan, Sunday's victory reached far beyond the soccer field. Many of the Japanese women were affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck their country March 11.
With their victory they bring hope to a nation that has endured so much.
"We wanted to use this opportunity to thank the people back home for the support that has been given," coach Norio Sasaki said following Sunday's championship win, which was the first by an Asian country.
"If any other country was to win this, then I'm really happy and proud for Japan," U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd said. "Deep down inside I really thought it was our destiny to win it. But maybe it was Japan's."