ROSEMONT — It was within their reach.
And then it was gone.
Bidding for their first PIAA finals appearance since girls soccer transitioned to the fall — and first final since spring 2009 — the Hempfield Black Knights brought the heat on a cold Tuesday night at Harriton High School.
But, in the end, it was Boyertown with the only goal of the PIAA Class 4A semifinal, scored with 4:11 to play.
The Bears (21-2), the District One runner-up, booked their spot in what will be an all-District One championship match Saturday, where they will face the winner between Pennridge and Conestoga.
Boyertown junior midfielder Camilla Kuever placed a perfect header into the upper right 90 off a corner kick from Mikayla Moyer for the winner Tuesday.
“I’m tall, 5-11,” said Kuever, a member of the German U16 national team in the states as a foreign exchange student.
“It was a really good ball, from Mikayla,” she said, “and I placed it in the upper corner.”
On an earlier corner, late in the first half, Kuever sent her header over the frame.
This time, camped in the middle of the goal mouth, she took a little off her shot. “I was definitely concentrating more on this one, placing it in the goal and not above,” she said.
“To her credit, she did a great job of getting up,” Black Knights coach Jason Mackey said. “What are you going to do with that? Upper 90 header, back near post? It was just a heck of a play.”
In a match that ebbed and flowed, more often than not the Knights (19-4-1) flowed into the attacking third, putting pressure on the Bears back four and keeper Maddie Gallagher.
Hempfield finished with 31 opportunities, but with just six shots on goal, and carried the play in the second half.
“It was a game of close chances, both sides,” Mackey said. “I was just waiting, in the second half, to put one into the back of the net.”
The Knights came close on multiple occasions.
Jess Weinholdt’s header hit the left post six minutes in.
Gallagher enveloped Lauren Riggs’ 39-yard free kick seven minutes later.
In a series that began with 23 minutes to play, Gallagher saved a shot from Lizzie Yurchak, then stopped Georgia Kielmyer, who was fed by Yurchak, and covered the follow-up shot.
On the run up to the semifinals, the Bears offense played through Kuever and Emma Beidler to high-scoring forward Sam Goffice.
Hempfield did a good job of neutralizing Goffice — she had just three shots on goal, and created two more chances.
“We did a great job of controlling the pace of play,” Mackey said, “and absorbing their counters. That’s where they excel.
“And our goalkeeper bailed us out a couple of times. Unfortunately, that last time gave them the corner.”
With time running out, and the Bears on the counter attack after another series of Hempfield chances, Goffice unleashed a rising shot from the left wing.
Hempfield freshman keeper Emileigh Antesberger extended to her full reach to poke the shot away from the right post and over the end line, triggering the fatal corner.
While the heartbreak of the loss left the Knights bereft, with the passage of time the season’s accomplishments will be what they remember.
“I knew this team had potential,” Mackey said. “We had great senior leadership and, as the season moved on, we started playing well together. The biggest thing was taking all these different, talented players, understanding each other’s tendencies and understanding what we need to do together, to be a great team.
“We made a heck of a run. Unfortunately, it has to end tonight.”