Pekin beat Illini Bluffs 1-0 on Aug. 26 in the final game of the round-robin Pekin Invitational boys soccer tournament.

Illini Bluffs returned the favor Thursday, defeating the Dragons 1-0 at Illini Bluffs in a non-conference match.

It was the fifth straight win for the Tigers (5-3-2), who began the season winless in five games.

“Hard-fought victory,” said Illini Bluffs coach Gerard Smith. “We’re playing how I knew we could play after our disappointing start.”

Smith said goalie Braden Cox kept the Tigers in Thursday’s game with 13 saves, including what Smith called an amazing diving save in which Cox pushed the ball over the crossbar.

“That shot was going in all the way,” Smith said.

Illini Bluffs scored in the 63rd minute.

Reid Songeroth beat a Pekin defender on the left wing and sent a cross into the box. Pekin goalie Riley Bradshaw got his hand on the ball, but it bounced in the air and Jake Larson was there to head it home.

Bradshaw made seven saves. Illini Bluffs outshot Pekin 19-12.

Pekin coach Gus Kormah liked his team’s effort.

“My boys are playing well,” he said. “Numbers (the Dragons’ small roster) are killing us.”

Irish stunned: The Peoria Notre Dame boys soccer team lost its first match of the season Thursday.

ND dropped a 2-1 road decision to Big 12 Conference foe Normal Community.

Declan Dillon scored at 37:20 on an assist from Noah Madrigal to put the Irish (7-1-0, 2-1-0) ahead 1-0.

“We were pretty fired up at halftime because we gave up a goal we felt we shouldn’t have allowed,” Normal Community coach Matt Chapman said. “We felt we were playing well. I said, ‘This is a great opportunity for us and a great challenge.’ Our guys showed a lot of heart.”

Josef Halcomb assisted Michael Reibling at 47:38 as the Ironmen (6-2-2, 2-0-1) tied the game at 1-1.

Josue Nsukami scored an unassisted goal at 61:22 to set the final score, 2-1.

“I was really proud of our boys for pulling together, creating things and earning an opportunity to score,” Chapman said.

Peoria Journal Star contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.