Tech still dominant despite huge player losses

Dunedin Technical has won the Women’s Premier League for an eighth consecutive year.  PHOTO:...
Dunedin Technical has won the Women’s Premier League for an eighth consecutive year. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
It can be tough being the team to beat.

Week after week, you get the best from whoever your opponent is.

And week after week, you have to try to get yourself up for another big game.

It is no easy task, no matter how good you are.

That as much as anything makes Dunedin Technical’s continued dominance of the Women’s Premier League all the more impressive.

It claimed its eighth consecutive title with a 3-1 win over Queenstown on Saturday as it draws in on 100 games unbeaten in the league.

This year’s win was perhaps the most impressive.

The side had suffered huge losses in captain Coral Seath, Mikaela Hunt and Jade Middleditch, while Shontelle Smith followed mid-season.

However, it brought through a handful of youngsters, while Tahlia Roome, Lauren Paterson and Erin Dickie all proved handy pick-ups.

Mixed in with a bunch of stalwarts — the likes of Kelsey Kennard and Chelsea Whittaker — it was enough to keep the streak going.

"We’re pretty stoked about it; it’s been a lot of hard work," coach Craig Johnston said.

"We’ve got a great band of girls. They tried really hard.

"We were written off by a few at the start of the season; a few people thought they were going to put us under a bit of pressure.

"We managed to get through and got it done again."

Johnston agreed it could be difficult being the team everyone was chasing.

He said its toughest two games had come against University seconds and its most recent one against Queenstown.

Both had taken the game to Tech and he felt lucky to have won at the weekend.

Johnston is in his second year with the team, having taken over from the success of Graeme Smaill and Andrew Whittaker.

In Smaill’s final game, the side won the Kate Sheppard Cup — the national knockout tournament — in 2018.

Last year, it was edged in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals.

The cup was cancelled this year due to the impacts of Covid-19 and he admitted to being disappointed not to have a chance to play in it.

"I’m absolutely gutted, to be honest," he said.

"I thought we had a bloody good squad to go deep in that. It’s something you aim for.

"It’s good playing the local stuff, but once you get out of town and get amongst those other good sides, it’s real tough football and a pleasure to be part of."

However, he added an extra year of experience might be good for the side’s younger players to make a deep run into next year’s cup.

The side has one more game left to complete another unbeaten season.

Johnston is expecting a tough challenge from the second-placed University firsts side.

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