Knights flex muscles in 7-1 rout of Craig

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Photo by Tim Moore Baylor Denu (7) of Beloit and Rodrigo Villanueva (8) of Craig battle for the ball Tuesday.

JANESVILLE - Beloit Memorial and Janesville Craig traded early goals, setting the stage for a potential shootout on the opening night of the Big Eight Conference boys soccer season.

That was only half right.

The Purple Knights kept surging forward with purpose, while the Cougars spent more time on their heels as the game wore on.

With Omar Munoz and Bernardo Plascencia spearheading its attack, Beloit cruised to a 7-1 win over Craig on a humid Tuesday evening.

The nimble Munoz scored three goals and assisted Plascencia during the Purple Knights' four-goal first half. Beloit Memorial scored six unanswered goals after Craig (2-5-1, 0-1-0 Big Eight) tied the game in the sixth minute through Kevin Espinoza.

Conceding an early goal Tuesday didn't haunt the Purple Knights (5-2-0, 1-0-0 Big Eight) like it had in several recent matches.

"We struggle a bit at getting our defense to be organized at the beginning of games," Beloit Memorial coach Brian Denu said. "We gave up an early goal against Waunakee; we gave up an early goal against Kettle Moraine last week. We're kind of discombobulated and our shape is all over the place."

Munoz beat Craig keeper Ty Bienema from the edge of the penalty area less than two minutes into the game.

The Cougars answered soon after, with Espinoza connecting at 5:53 after a long corner kick was headed back into the middle of the penalty area.

Munoz tapped in a rebound after Bienema sprawled to deny Gustavo Salazar's long-distance shot in the 12th minute, and the Purple Knights didn't look back.

It was the largest loss of the season for Craig, which had not conceded more than three goals in a game entering Tuesday.

"It shouldn't be that easy for guys to score on us," Craig coach Garrett McCabe said. "It was too easy for them to walk around us.

"We struggled with our defending in one-versus-one challenges. We made some adjustments, but we're still trying to figure out personnel there (defensively)."

The speedy duo of Plascencia and Munoz was difficult for Craig's defenders to contain. They helped the Purple Knights put together a remarkably efficient night offensively. Fourteen of Beloit Memorial's 18 shots were on target.

Munoz set up Plascencia for a goal in the 21st minute and then collected his third of the game--and team-leading seventh of the season--in the 37th minute.

"We knew we had some mismatches up top with our two forwards. We utilized the long ball," Denu said. "It won't work against every team in our conference, we understand that."

Johnny Leon-Horta scored twice in a 10-minute span in the second half, while James Castellanos converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

David Almanza had nine saves for the Knights, while Bienema (two saves) and Reed Kelly (four saves) each played a half in goal for the Cougars.

• UP NEXT: Beloit will host Sun PrairieThursday night. The Purple Knights haven't beaten the Cardinals since 2014.

• BOXSCORE: BELOIT 7, CRAIG 1.

Beloit Memorial.....4 3 - 7

Janes. Craig........1 0 - 1

First half: BM--Omar Munoz, 1:35. JC--Kevin Espinoza, 5:53. BM--Munoz (Gustavo Salazar), 11:59. BM--Bernardo Plascencia (Munoz), 20:39. BM--Munoz (Baylor Denu), 36:16.

Second half: BM--Johnny Leon-Horta, 49:53. BM--Leon-Horta, 59:40. BM--James Castellanos (PK), 79:57.

Saves--David Almanza (BM) 9, Ty Bienema (JC) 2, Reed Kelly (JC) 4. Shots--BM 18, JC 15. Shots on goal--BM 14, JC 10. Corners--BM 4, JC 2.

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