Francis Scott Key Wins Third Straight Baltimore City Middle School Soccer Championship

| June 5, 2024 | 0 Comments

Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School (FSK) won its third straight Baltimore City Middle School Soccer Championship on Monday. The FSK Fish Hawks defeated fellow South Baltimore school Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School 8-2 in the championship game.

The Fish Hawks finished the regular season 9-0, earning the #1 seed in the playoffs. FSK beat Brooklyn/Curtis Bay’s Bay Brook Elementary/Middle School 4-0 in the semi-final game.

FSK, with the help of Jason Venezia-Walerstein, now an assistant principal at the school, worked to restart the Baltimore City middle school outdoor soccer league last year. It has quickly grown from four teams to nine teams in the past year. Riverside’s Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School is one of the most-recent teams to join the league.

FSK is coached by Adam Steller, a guidance counselor at the school, and Warren Dungee, a parent of an 2023 FSK graduate, is an assistant coach. Dungee was also a coach last year when his son Gabe was on the team.

Steller played soccer at Juniata College.

Dungee first organized FSK’s team in 2017 before it took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said there is now “a lot of momentum for the league” and noted a nine-game regular season is similar to what players would get playing junior varsity in high school.

Dungee and Steller also noted the increased momentum inside the building for the soccer program and a roster that kept expanding.

The Fish Hawks had 18 middle school students on the traveling roster and another seven on the practice squad. There were additional key players who played in the fall but had other commitments during the spring.

The team had the benefit of playing many home games this year thanks to new soccer goals behind the school funded by the FSK Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO). The PTO also funded uniforms with jerseys and shorts for the soccer squad.

In the three seasons since restarting the outdoor soccer league (Spring 2023, Fall 2023, and Spring 2024), FSK has won the championship each time.

Dario Baldi led the team in scoring this spring with 11 goals; Wyatt Kovacs, Will Warner, and Mateo Phipps each netted 10 goals; and Atman Patel, Oliver Stephens, Ian Dickensheets, Landon Tsang, Ryan Kashnow, Carlos Gomez, Mason Rhuling, and Jack Wunderlich all had multiple goals.

Jude Leith and Carter Lawson played goalie for the Fish Hawks this year, and coaches credited Wunderlich, Rhuling, and Dickensheets for their work on defense.

Following the championship win, each of the players received a medal and hoisted a trophy that will stay at the school. Dungee noted many of these players have won championships at the club soccer level, but noted there’s something extra special about winning a trophy for one’s school.

“It was just a great experience and a great two years for me coaching for these guys,” said Steller. “We got spoiled with this group of 8th graders. It will be tough to fill their shoes next year.”

Dungee gave Steller a lot of credit for taking over the program, bringing his soccer knowledge, and “teaching the kids how to prepare for games and have the right mindset.”

“I appreciated Coach Steller allowing me to be a part of it,” said Dungee.

“The kids really supported each other. There was no blaming and they were always supportive. It was a true team,” said Dungee.

Steller and Dungee both agreed the middle school soccer league can help propel high school soccer in the city.

Five of the top players from the team will play atĀ Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly) in North Baltimore next year. A couple other key players will play at City.

Heller said the student athletes ended up at Poly and City because they are “super smart and academically motived” and noted it’s a “bonus” those schools have good soccer programs.

Steller looks forward to the next core group of players and noted it is a co-ed league. Three sisters of the FSK players, all in 6th grade, were all on the team in the fall, but had other commitments this spring.

Talking about the love for soccer in South Baltimore, Dungee and Heller talked about the future “grudge matches” between FSK and Thomas Johnson. Steller predicted some very good teams for Thomas Johnson in the future. The two schools have had many informal games over the years.

FSK Fish Hawks Roster

Jack Wunderlich, Mateo Phipps, Will Warner, Wyatt Kovacs, Larry Estrada, Mason Rhuling, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Kashnow, Carter Lawson, Landon Tsang, Ian Dickensheets, Marlon Acosta Zuniga, Andy Abarca, Oliver Stephens, Charles Dougal, Narel El Amin, Atman Patel, Jude Leith, Mark Nieto Garcia, Abiel Rodriguez Basurto, Brendan Fernandez, Christian Marquez, Marco Rodriguez, Darguin Romero Martinez, Malachi Roberts.

Photos courtesy of Aiden Tsang

Warren Dungee, Mateo Phipps, and Adam HellerĀ 

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