Monika Eggens will play for Canada at the Pan Am Games. (Contributed)

Pair will play for Canada in water polo

Athletes from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows named to national teams

A pair of local athletes will represent Canada in water polo.

Matthew Halajian of Maple Ridge will play for the men’s national team, and Monika Eggens of Pitt Meadows for the women as the Canadian Olympic Committee and Water Polo Canada announced the athletes selected for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

The water polo tournament will take place at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo from Aug. 4-10.

The Canadian women’s team comes into the competition with a lot of experience, as six of the 11 players competed at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and won a silver medal.

Eggens represented Canada for the first time at the 2007 FINA World Junior Championships. She made her senior debut in 2009 when she competed alongside her sister Carmen at the FINA Water Polo World League Super Final, helping Canada to a first-ever silver medal.

She helped Canada win silver at the 2011 Pan Am Games and was a member of the FINA World Championship squads that finished eighth in 2011 and 2013.

In her four years at the University of Hawaii, Eggens became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 252 goals in 115 games and set a single season record with 101 goals as a senior. She was a first-team All-American in 2011 and 2013 after red-shirting to train with Team Canada in 2012.

Halajian, 24, is an attacker out of the Fraser Valley Water Polo Club, who is known as a fast and mobile swimmer, with a powerful shot. The national team member is an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary. The Maple Ridge secondary grad is studying political science and communications.

He played in the 2011 under-18 nationals, winning silver, and internationally won silver in the 2017 UANA Cup. He also competed at the 2015 FINA World Championships, placing ninth.

Having won medals at all previous editions of the Pan American Games, the women’s water polo team will try to repeat its performance from the Winnipeg 1999 Pan American Games where they earned the gold medal in a brilliant victory against the United States.

The Canadian men’s team is composed of many young and dynamic players who will make their first appearance at the Pan American Games. The Canadian men won a bronze medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Their best result is a silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The stakes are particularly high for the men and women’s teams as the Lima 2019 Pan American Games represent a crucial Olympic qualification opportunity – the gold medalists in each tournament qualify directly for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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