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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Former Wagner College standout and new assistant coach Malia Josephson along with rising sophomore Mattia Bognolo (Canbarra, Australia) earned spots with their native countries this Summer.

This is not the first time Josephson and Bognolo have represented their national teams. Josephson played for the New Zealand Youth National Team before landing on Grymes Hill in 2016. Mattia has had the opportunity to play for his native country of Australia since 2015 when he first competed against U15 European and the US National Teams.

Both Seahawks were selected to their teams based on performance in prior international play and collegiate play as Seahawks. Josephson wrapped up her Wagner career this past season as an Association of College Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Honorable Mention All-America selection and earned a spot on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Second Team. During his first season on Grymes Hill, Bognolo lead the Seahawks with 48 steals.

Josephson earned a right to compete at the 2022 FINA Women’s Water Polo World Championships that begun on June 20 in Budapest, Hungary. In Hungary, the New Zealand National Team competed in a group with Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Australia. New Zealand defeated Brazil and Kazakhstan in group play while falling to Australia. In the final group game against Kazakhstan, Josephson tallied four goals and won two sprints to propel New Zealand into the Round of 16.

“Playing collegiate and national team water polo can be similar in aspects,” Josephson said. “Similar in the way that you have people coming from all over the world that are the best in their town and playing for a high-level team. However, at the international level you know you are playing the best players in the world which is very rewarding and amazing to play against.”

Bognolo also explained what he thinks the difference is between international and collegiate water polo.

“Collegiate and international water polo competitions to play with and against players and teams from different backgrounds and that have different styles of play,” he said. “Other than international water polo having slightly different rules to the NCAA, playing for Australia gives me a sense of pride that goes beyond playing in terms of representing my club of school.”

Bognolo will be competing in multiple contests against the Serbian and Montenegrin Junior National Teams while preparing for the 2023 FINA Junior World Championships. Before that, Mattia had the opportunity to compete for the Aussie Sharks, the Australian Senior National Team before the squad took place in the 2022 FINA World Championships.

The difference between the Junior and Senior National Teams is that to be selected to the Junior team, you must be 18 years or younger. To qualify to qualify for the Senior team, you must be any age older than 18.

In their international duties, both players hope to gain an unforgettable experience and expand their knowledge and skills in water polo. Josephson tributes her international success to all her accomplishments at Wagner.

“My experience at Wagner has played a role in me playing for the New Zealand National Team,” Josephson said. “Playing at a higher level in comparison to the club level at home and the volume of training at Wagner has given me more experience.”

Release courtesy Wagner College Athletics Communications

Collegiate Water Polo Association