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 Memorial cruised to a 7-1 win over Craig on a humid Tuesday evening in Janesville.

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 did 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.

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Janesville Craig's Kevin Espinoza, right, celebrates with teammates Rodrigo Villanueva, center, and AJ Anhold after scoring in the first half of a Big Eight Conference game against Beloit Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Janesville.

Munoz tapped in a rebound after Bienema sprawled to deny Gustavo Salazar’s long-distance shot in the 12th minute. 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).”

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Janesville Craig's Caiden Kennedy heads the ball away from the penalty area in the first half of a Big Eight Conference game against Beloit Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Janesville.

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, and James Castellanos converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

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

Craig will aim for its eighth straight win over crosstown rival Parker on Thursday, while Beloit Memorial will host Sun Prairie that same night. The Purple Knights haven’t beaten the Cardinals since 2014.

  • Parker falls to Verona—The Wildcats scored eight goals in the first half en route to an 11-0 win over the visiting Vikings (1-3-0, 0-1-0 Big Eight) on Tuesday.

Verona’s Jack Heilman opened the rout by scoring in the first minute of the game. Eliot Popkewitz had a goal and four assists.

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Beloit Memorial's Oscar Munoz, left, dribbles forward as Janesville Craig's Chase Currie defends in the first half of a Big Eight Conference game Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Janesville.

BELOIT 7, CRAIG 1

Beloit Memorial 4 3—7

Janesville 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. Offsides—BM 1, JC 1. Fouls—BM 12, JC 12.

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