Lynchburg, Va. -- On a chilly Saturday afternoon in November, Abibi Osman found himself somewhere he didn't expect to be.
In the starting lineup.
"I was nervous before the game," the Lynchburg College men's soccer team's wing said.
He hadn't started since Sept. 10, but for Saturday's first-round NCAA Division III tournament match presented a matchup that favored Osman's speed and finesse. It worked out splendidly for the Hornets.
Osman assisted two Lynchburg goals, and the Hornets blew past Penn State Abington, 3-0, to become one of the last 32 teams remaining in the country. But Lynchburg head coach Chris Yeager had good reason for switching up the starting lineup so late in the season; that Sept. 10 match, Osman's most recent start, bore striking similarity to Saturday's NCAA matchup -- namely, the opponent.
In Lynchburg's first win over Penn State Abington this season, a 4-0 affair played in Salem, Va., Osman notched his first assist in a Hornets uniform.
Saturday's pair was bigger. But it was the goal he wasn't in on that Osman said was biggest for the Hornets. Lynchburg set the tone in the 11th minute when Nate Berning's cross found Jack Ashby in the box, and the sophomore headed it into the goal.
The Hornets continued to control the early going, breaking through again in the 13th minute. This time, Osman put a ball in the box that Jon Mackey finished with ease.
"That took them out of it," Osman said of the early scores, "but going into halftime, we knew we needed one more goal."
It took Lynchburg a while to get it, but the Hornets did. On a quick strike, Osman directed the ball to an open Collin Kashmer, and the senior struck home his fourth goal of 2017.
The goal wasn't just icing on the cake, Osman insisted; it really helped put the Hornets' minds at ease.
"Soccer is called 'the beautiful sport' because anything can happen," the freshman said. "Teams can be down in the last five minutes and score two lucky goals."
Lynchburg wasn't about to make an exit in that fashion. The Hornets controlled all aspects for 90 minutes. They out-shot the Nittany Lions 22-4 and had a 12-0 advantage on corner kicks.
Saturday's win marked the third-straight time Lynchburg has won in the first round of NCAA tournament play. The Hornets will take on Emory, which beat Dickinson, 3-1, in the other semifinal. That match will be Sunday at 4 p.m. on Shellenberger Field.