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Jerry Preisendorf admitted he didn't know how good Gui Leme was when the dynamic junior midfielder transferred to Lehi from Pleasant Grove.

He had an entire season to find out and watch, sometimes in complete awe.

"He's so creative in the box," Preisendorf said, "you just kind of let him do his own thing."

The Lehi coach turned Leme, one of the state's most talented players, loose on the pitch, and it paid off. The Pioneer midfielder led his team with 15 goals this season, including the winning goal in the Class 5A state title game.

It was quite the season for a player who struggled to get his high school career off the ground. Leme said he didn't play much his freshman year at Pleasant Grove, and he eventually was a team manager. Sophomore year featured struggles in the classroom.

Leme's move to Lehi was, in a sense, revolutionary for a talented club player in the Olympic Development Program. On a team with a veteran coach in Preisendorf and several senior leaders, Leme had the opportunity to shine.

And he did in the biggest of moments.

When the Pioneers fell behind 1-0 against Brighton in the 5A semifinals, Leme's 30-yard rocket turned the tide. It was a memorable finish to a season that started on a substandard note.

"When we lost to Mountain Crest, American Fork and Riverton, I didn't even think we had a chance at state," he said.

Things changed April 19 when the Pioneers defeated Lone Peak 2-0.

"We all decided we wanted to win, pretty much," Leme said. "We all started getting excited and confident about the game."

That carried over into the postseason, where Lehi scored 15 goals in four playoff matches en route to the state championship.

"I think they smelled what a state championship is, and I think they want to go back," Preisendorf said. "We'll try."

And Gui Leme will be right there leading the way.

Twitter: @chriskamrani

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