updated 08/25/2015 AT 8:16 PM ET
•originally published 02/21/2014 AT 4:30 PM ET
U.S. women’s hockey player Julie Chu will have the honor of carrying the American flag in the Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony Sunday – a triumphant moment that will hopefully ease the heartbreak she’s still feeling from her team’s shocking loss to Canada on Thursday.
“We never lost the belief that we could win the gold,” said the Fairfield, Conn., resident. After leading 2-0 with just four minutes left, the U.S. team ended up losing the game 3-2 in overtime.
“When that final puck goes in, I think that’s the moment where it dawns, ‘OK, what we believed in that moment didn’t come true.’ But we still have belief in each other and how proud we are. That defines us,” said Chu. “Not just one game.”
At a post-game news conference, Chu and other players – some wiping their eyes – thought back on all the things they could have done to bring home the gold.
“It’s hockey; it’s a game,” said team captain Meghan Duggan, of Danvers, Mass. “There are 1 million mistakes that are made in a game, 1 million balances that go your way. At the end of the day, I think our team put a good 60 minutes-plus [on the ice]. It was a great hockey game to be a part of.”
It was Canada’s fourth consecutive gold in Olympic women’s hockey, three of them at the expense of Team USA, which last won in 1998.
“By far, this was the most devastating loss for me, and for a lot of our teammates,” said Amanda Kessel, of Madison, Wisc. “We felt we had the gold in our hands, and we never gave up. But things didn’t go our way.”