There is no greater pressure on the pitch than that placed on the goalkeeper. This person is literally the only obstacle between a scorer and the net.
A goalkeeper requires a lot of athletic ability, leaping left and right, sacrificing her body to prevent the ball from hitting the net. She also needs mental sharpness to play mind games with whoever is in front of her.
And it's only right that after featuring the Filipinas' top goal scorers in Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada, as well as the high-skilled forwards in Carleigh Frilles and Meryll Soriano, we next get to know the Philippines' goalkeepers Kiara Fontanilla, Olivia McDaniel, and Kaiya Jota ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Name: Kiara Fabiola Reyes Fontanilla
Birthplace: Fullerton, California, United States
Club: Central Coast Mariners Women’s Academy
Kiara Fontanilla had quite a baptism of fire, stepping up for the Philippine women's national football team in the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup against powerhouse Australia. She conceded four goals to the Matildas, but she learned.
Since then, the shot-stopper has represented the Filipinas seven more times and boasts five clean sheets under her belt. Apparently, Kiki has idolized long-time Filipinas captain Inna Palacios and absorbed a whole lot from the OG goalkeeper.
Let 'em know
The goal has always been the same for all members of the national squad—inspire the next generation.
"We definitely got our name out there, hopefully creating a path for women in sports in the Philippines. Hopefully it continues on from there," Fontanilla said in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas.
Her advice to the young ones? Keep the fire burning. It's what kept her going.
"Stay humble, stay hard-working, and stay passionate," she added. "If I lost my passion, I wouldn't be here."
Pass the sass
She also has a passion for creepy cosplays. But it works like fire for Halloween. Couple goals, anyone?
Australia could have scored more than four against the Philippines last year. Fontanilla made sure they would have no more.
Name: Olivia Alexandra Isip Davies-McDaniel
Birthplace: Laguna Beach, California, United States
Club: So Cal Union FC
Olivia McDaniel will be immortalized in Filipinas' history with her performance in the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup, converting a crucial penalty and making multiple key stops to help the Philippines secure the FIFA Women's World Cup ticket.
She hasn't always been a goalkeeper, but admitted that she didn't have the endurance to run the full length of the pitch like her sister Chandler, who plays forward for the Filipinas. Her father and coach advised her to stay at the goal instead.
The Philippines can't thank him enough for that advice. Thank you, dad!
Since appearing as a substitute in the AFC Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers against Hong Kong in 2021, McDaniel has since made 29 appearances and secured 10 clean sheets for the country.
Let 'em know
This is the one goal McDaniel is willing to pass through—having more boys and girls in the Philippines learn to play and love the beautiful game.
"I hope it has an impact on the Philippines in a way that people start to care about the sport more and to give it a bit more love and maybe more boys and girls in the next generations to come will start to play," McDaniel told Australia's Optus Sport.
Pass the sass
Olivia knows and loves her anime. We love the dedication to cosplays, just like this one from One Piece.
Plus, there's this commitment to playing Rock Lee from Naruto.
There's no other way to introduce McDaniel than her epic penalty shootout performance.
But she has also been a sturdy and steady wall for the Filipinas en route to the AFF Women's Championship in 2022.
Name: Kaiya Rose Flintham Jota
Birthplace: Baldwin Park, California, United States
Club: Los Angeles Breakers
The Filipinas will be in good hands, as the team will have Kaiya Jota as the next goalkeeper in line.
She was called up during the Costa Rica training camp back in October. Kaiya made her debut at an international friendly a few months later, subbing for McDaniel against Papua New Guinea for a 9-0 card.
That's one clean sheet for Kaiya!
She's also part of the Filipinas U20 team and is committed to Stanford University.
Let 'em know
Football is in the Jota blood apparently, with Kaiya's sister Asia playing as midfielder for the Bethany Vikings.
Kaiya learned you can play football even without running the full pitch.
"Personally, I'm not very fond of running," she said during the The Locker Room Talk Show interview. "I just kinda found goalkeeping to be fun. You get to throw yourself at the ball. It was really exciting."
Pass the sass
Kaiya may not be ready to run the full pitch, but hiking seems to be alright.
That Stanford blue looks pretty good too.
Here's a peek of what Kaiya can deliver, as shown by this save for the Los Angeles Breakers.
Footnote: The selection of Fontanilla, McDaniel, and Jota should by no means be a knock on Inna Palacios, who has been serving as a goalkeeper for the Philippines since she was 13. The reserve for the Filipinas is an OG, a pioneer, an AFF champion, and still has plenty to give for the country.