Searsport soccer fans likely did a double take this fall, perhaps feeling a bit of déjà vu seeing Kali Bereyni on the sidelines instead of on the field.

Bereyni was, after all, an integral piece of the puzzle for the Searsport District High School girls soccer team for three seasons.

Now, the 19-year-old, who graduated from SDHS a mere 17 months ago, returned this fall to be the girls soccer coach at Searsport District Middle School.

Bereyni, who is enrolled at the University of Maine in Orono studying early childhood education, was asked last year by athletic director Jim McGinn about coaching last season, but she could not make it work with her rigorous schedule.

This year, however, McGinn approached her again, and Bereyni jumped at the chance.

“It worked out well with my school schedule so I said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ ” she said.

Coincidentally, Bereyni’s father, Frank, had coached the SDMS middle school boys team before stepping down prior to this year.

Bereyni scored 10 goals her senior year for the Vikings and was a Penobscot Valley Conference Class C all star, helping eighth-ranked SDHS earn a 5-3 win in the preliminary round of the Eastern Class C playoffs against Madawaska before falling to top-ranked Orono 5-1 in the quarterfinals.

Additionally, she played for Searsport in middle school and helped the Vikings collect the Busline League championship in seventh grade and also led her team to a playoff berth in eighth grade.

Bereyni had never put much thought into coaching before McGinn approached her, but given her prior relationship with many of the young players, the decision was an easy one.

“It was awesome because I knew a lot of the girls already,” she said. “I have a brother who is 13 so a lot of those girls are right in my brother’s class [or] have hung out with him. I know a lot of their parents or a lot of their siblings, and things like that, so it was awesome going in because I already knew a lot of them.”

Bereyni said it was “stressful at times” dealing with lots of the strategy and preparing for opponents, along with juggling a full load of classes at UMaine, in addition to holding down a part-time job, but “it was definitely really fun and an amazing opportunity.”

“It taught me so much more about the game, because you’re looking at it all from a whole new aspect,” she said. “I’ve played soccer for forever and ever and played on a lot of travel teams.”

She said that although she has only had one year of coaching experience as opposed to numerous years of playing experience, coaching is significantly more difficult.

“Not only do you have to worry about the team’s needs you have to worry about individual player’s needs as well,” she said. “When you’re playing that’s all your thinking about.”

The Vikings, who had 24 student-athletes, according to the coach, finished 0-8 this season and lost to Oceanside “A” in a Busline League prelim playoff game.

Berenyi said her style of coaching leans more toward aggressive play, which is also the style of coaching her father uses.

“I kind of have a ‘push-, push-, push-‘ kind-of attitude and I picked up on that from him,” she said. “Plus, playing competitive soccer for seven, eight, nine years obviously that competitiveness is instilled in me.”

Bereyni said that, particularly given her major in college, it was a good experience for her to coach young children, and it is something should would love to do again next season if her collegiate workload is not too heavy.

“I definitely would like to coach again, but I really have to look at my school schedule,” she said. “Education comes first. But if my school schedule allows it and I don’t have to take classes at night, then absolutely I would do it again.”

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.