Sandy • Purple streamers tumbled around the grass at Rio Tinto Stadium. Some caught onto the heels of players. Others, blowing in the wind, wrapped around the Pioneer players dancing and screaming and laughing.
The accomplishment, a Class 5A boys’ soccer state championship for Lehi and its 2-0 win over Region 4 rival Bingham on Thursday evening, was dwarfed by an entire season.
Jerry Preisendorf used one word to describe this year’s team, the team that ended up waving flags in the air and spraying sparkling cider atop one another.
It’s been the team’s motto, and with that a natural challenge to overcome them.
“They came through it,” said Preisendorf, sopping wet after earning his second state title in four years at the helm in Lehi. “They’re stronger today.”
Some trials were organic. There were the disappointing losses, the expectation of being a No. 1 seed and a region champion.
Others were inflicted. Star junior Gui Lemi didn’t start against the Miners because he missed Wednesday’s practice and had to watch his team take the field without him.
Lemi, a dynamic attacking talent sporting soccer’s No. 10 jersey, eventually made his mark. He scored the Pioneers’ first goal in the 53rd minute when he started a counterattack. After passing the ball out wide to senior captain Caide Ramos, Lemi made a run into space, and Ramos rewarded him with a cross. Lemi took care of the rest.
“Before we even started,” Lemi said, “we were talking about winning state.”
That was about the time when Preisendorf approached Aaron Caprio, a lifelong goal-scorer, and asked him if he would become the anchor of a defense that badly needed a sweeper.
“I’ve never played center back in my whole life,” Caprio said as the fervent Lehi student section chanted his name.
When Bingham pushed toward the goal, it was Caprio who was there to put the kibosh on any threats. He regularly chased down Miner forwards, cleared the ball and calmly distributed from the back. The Pioneers pushed through the trials they faced.
“You can’t get any more unselfish than that,” Preisendorf said.
It was Chad Preisendorf, the coach’s son, who finished Lehi’s second goal when his second-half cross took a high bounce and wasn’t able to be cleared off the line by Bingham.
Coach Preisendorf, focused on the entire team, the season and still dripping from the Gatorade cooler dump, didn’t even know his son had scored in a state championship.
The voyage and the goal and all that came with it had ended in a flash.
“It’s over,” Jerry Preisendorf said. “We did well.”
The Pioneers didn’t do well. They did what they set out to do. They became champions.