It's trophy season in Chattanooga.
Fans knew they would be treated to a trophy on Wednesday night before Chattanooga FC hosted Club de Lyon for their 2023 National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) regular season finale.
Mayor Tim Kelly presented Head Coach and Sporting Director Rod Underwood and his team captains with the regular season trophy before kick-off to commemorate a sterling 2023 campaign.
However, the accolades did not end there.
By scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over the side from Florida, Markus Naglestad defended his title as NISA golden boot winner with his 15th goal of the campaign, leapfrogging Michigan Stars forward Leon Maric in the process.
While the Norwegian was of course pleased with the individual accomplishment, his mind was firmly set on the semi-final on November 5th.
"We need to leave it all on the pitch — not that we didn't do that tonight — you just need to realize how serious that game is.
It's a one-and-done. We learned our lesson last season. If you switch off for a moment, ten months of work can be down the toilet.
"It's about realizing how important that is, not just for the guys in the locker room, but for the club and for the city."
On the other side of play was the outstanding Jean Antoine, who stood up to the challenge of a late strike on goal to record his 15th clean sheet of the season.
Like Naglestad, the Haitian keeper defended his crown and took home the league's golden glove award in consecutive seasons.
And again, like Naglestad, Antoine was clear on what he prioritizes when the season ultimately comes to a close.
"Personal accomplishments don't mean much, because we're playing a team sport. If I have to sacrifice them (back-to-back golden glove awards) to win the next two games, that's all that matters."
Antoine admitted that the team were not able to play their most beautiful brand of soccer, but that it was exactly the preparation they needed going into Sunday's semi-final.
"Tonight there were some ugly moments in the game, so we showed we can also win ugly. We don't know who we're going to play next week, so we have to be ready to win ugly. No matter what the cost is, we have to get the job done."
CFC will be confident they can get the job done on Sunday night with the back-to-back golden glove and golden boot winner at either end of the pitch.
Fans can already purchase their tickets for the NISA semi-final on November 5th at ChattanoogaFC.com/TICKETS.