As Long Beach Poly’s girls’ soccer team was taking the field against Palos Verdes in the first round of the CIF Southern Section soccer playoffs, one of the PV parents leaned over to another and asked, “Who are THOSE girls?”
She was pointing to Aniah and Allanah Cutler, and it’s a question worth answering.
The sisters are one of the biggest reasons Long Beach Poly finds itself in Saturday’s Division 2 semifinal against Sunny Hills, a game that will be played at Wilson at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
It’s understandable that the duo would draw looks and questions even before the game started. Both are six feet plus, with powerful frames. Aniah is a junior who has starred at forward this year for Poly, and is committed to Washington State. Allanah, a senior, was a star on the school’s volleyball team and is signed to play that sport at West Point next year.
“They’re great,” said Poly coach Anthony Perez. “A lot of what we do is built around the skills and strengths they bring.”
Aniah is a powerful force up top, able to score or occupy bodies on set pieces and to direct the ball deftly to her teammates while absorbing contact from a defender. When someone gets loose and makes a run against Poly’s defense, it’s center back Allanah who’s been there with a well-timed tackle to shut them down.
Neither girl needs to be playing high school soccer, and both refrained from doing so the last two years under the school’s previous coach. Perez has known the family for years and helped convince them to come back. What really brought them back out was a desire to play on the same team, play with their friends, and play to representing their school and city.
“It means a lot to me,” said Allanah. “Being able to rep Poly, as unique as we are. We’re one of the few public schools that can hang with the private schools, I love it. It means everything.”
“It’s super great,” said Aniah. “Getting Anthony back this year, everyone loves to play for him, it’s been so much fun to have everyone together again.”
Opponents obviously would prefer that the duo have a little less school pride, of course. They’ve not only been dominating other teams throughout the playoffs, they’ve been entertaining their teammates while doing so.
During the game against Palos Verdes, one of the PV players was angered by something Poly forward Skylar Herrera said, and stormed over to her. The Cutler sisters, in unison, put a hand on their hip, cocked their head, and said, “Oh, WOW” from opposite ends of the field.
“A girl from PV, never,” said Allanah, who has also been known to put the fear of God into opponents who talk trash about her sister without realizing they’re related.
Both said that the roots of their gritty, skilled style are in their upbringing. With two older brothers, they had to learn to be tough; their parents also encouraged them to use all of their abilities to their advantage.
“Our parents taught us to love our size, and play hard and physical,” said Allanah.
The Cutlers don’t claim to be exactly alike, but they do both say they love playing with each other. They also can’t play any game without a trip to Starbucks together, a pre-game ritual both say they’ll miss next year when Allanah leaves for college.
The season hasn’t been all laughs, of course, Like any siblings who are close in age and athletic ability, there’s plenty of rivalry between them as well.
“There’s always rivalry, but I would say with what great people those kids are, for any competitiveness or rivalry between them there’s just as much love,” said Perez.
What they’d really love is the chance to play one more game together. Because of a big club volleyball tournament in Vegas this weekend, Allanah is going to miss her first game this Saturday, at a tough time.
“We need a win to get to the championship and then we can be on the field together again,” said Aniah.
“That’s the plan,” said Perez.