TAMPA — Moments after Palm Harbor University's Patrick McDonald skied the Hurricanes' last penalty shootout opportunity high over the crossbar, Ryan Van Schiack, Ben Sweat and P.J. McDonald collapsed onto the grass at the University of Tampa's Pepin Stadium.
They remained motionless, disbelief blanketing them.
It was an unfamiliar situation for the Hurricanes, winners of three state titles and the Class 5A defending state champion.
They were used to the pressure a state final presents.
Do-or-die situations were second nature.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes found themselves on the wrong end where so many times they have persevered, losing 2-1 in the Class 6A state final to Boca Raton after falling 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout.
They felt the sting.
And it hurt.
"They just got their hearts ripped out," PHU coach Alex Delgado said. "But that's how soccer goes."
This wasn't how it was supposed to end for the Hurricanes (21-6-3), attempting to join Melbourne this year as the only Florida high school teams to win back-to-back state titles in both boys and girls soccer.
Especially not after the Hurricanes grabbed the game's all-important first goal.
Ben Sweat beat the Bobcats' offside trap in the 26th minute and slipped a shot past the goalkeeper that rolled for what seemed like an eternity before clanging off the inside of the far post and crossing the goal line.
PHU didn't rest on its one-goal lead.
The Hurricanes continued pressuring well into the second half in search of a second goal that would all but secure the title.
But in the 60th minute, Boca Raton's Kevin McEntee, standing just inside the 18 on the right side of the box near the goal line, lifted a looping shot that appeared at first glance to be headed over the goal but dropped rapidly into the far corner to equalize for the Bobcats (20-6-2).
"Brilliant shot," Delgado said. "It changed the momentum of the game."
The final 20 minutes of regulation were no holds barred. Shirt pulls, leg whips and arm grabbing were standard fare for two teams absolutely unwilling to fold.
That pace took its toll in two 10-minute overtime periods that produced no score as players from both teams struggled to remain upright under intense cramping.
In the penalty shootout, Sweat clinically finished PHU's first shot attempt, and goalkeeper Josh Paul dove to his left to save a shot off the foot of Boca's Jeff Madsen to give the Hurricanes the early advantage.
But Van Schaick put the Hurricanes' next shot into the belly of Boca goalkeeper Brian Kilgallon. Then Allan Kuhne tied it for the Bobcats.
P.J. McDonald pushed the Hurricanes' third shot wide of goal, and McEntee converted for the Bobcats to give Boca a 2-1 lead and all the momentum.
Robert Sennabaum kept the Hurricanes' hopes alive by beating Kilgallon to the left corner. Colby Burdette, however, sent a shot past Paul to keep Boca ahead, and when Patrick McDonald missed his shot, the Bobcats had the state title that eluded them one year earlier when they fell to Melbourne in the 2009 Class 6A final.
"I think we've been to PKs two or three times this year, and we've made all of them, all except one. I mean, we've done good. I don't know what happened," Sweat said, still struggling to grasp the final frenetic minutes.
"I don't know if it was the pressure. Probably just the pressure. But, I don't know."
"We're feeling what (Boca Raton) felt last year," Delgado said. " …We'll think about this one for a long time but you learn, you live and life goes on.
"Tomorrow, all these boys will wake up, and they'll be living and that's all you can ask for. I'm just so proud of how they did all year."