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COLUMN: Men's soccer opponents might just get hit with the Rico



IUvsVCU_1

Virginia Commonwealth University midfielder Fortia Munts holds off IU senior Rece Buckmaster on Sept. 7 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The Hoosiers are 4-0 in Big Ten Conference play this season.  Matt Begala Buy Photos

It's game day and IU senior Rece Buckmaster wakes up and drinks some coffee. It’s just to get him energized for that morning, whatever he may be doing. If it’s a home game during the week he’ll be attending classes, and if it’s an away game he’ll be having a team breakfast. 

Fast forward to two hours before the match and the team will have a pre-game meal, and Buckmaster will drink another cup of coffee. 

He’ll put on his cream and crimson jersey and then put on his shin guard, sock and shoe all on his right leg first, then all on his left. All throughout the day he’ll be listening to his game day playlist, which has all types of music on it. 

Most notably is the song “R.I.C.O.” by Meek Mill featuring Drake, simply due to the fact that his nickname is Rico. 

As Buckmaster was talking about this nickname and how it’s carried over from high school to college, a few of his teammates yell out, “Rico” from the other side of the fence as they were leaving practice. 

It’s what his teammates will call him on the pitch, it’s a part of his Twitter handle and it’s been a name that formed when he was a freshman in high school. 

When he takes the field, his opponents might just get hit with the Rico, as Drake and Meek Mill would say. 

Despite only being 5 feet, 8 inches tall, Buckmaster constantly pests the attackers going for goal. 

“I feel like being low center to gravity is better than being tall,” Buckmaster said. “I think that helps a lot, and obviously my quickness.”

All the caffeine he drinks before the game pays off. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and is one of the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. That’s a lot of scientific words to say it keeps Buckmaster awake and ready, and he’s fast. Really fast. 

When IU is pushing up the field on offense, and the opponent begins its counter attack, Buckmaster is the quickest one to retreat on defense. He may be the fastest player on the team. He never ran track, but he remembers setting the record for the mile at his middle school. 

Buckmaster will allow his taller opponents to go for the headers, but as soon as the ball gets to their feet, he locks them down, pressures them tries to throw them off. 

He throws them off more often than not. 

He hasn’t always been the high-caliber defender he is today, though. 

It was his freshman year at Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that the young buck officially committed to IU. 

Ever since the eighth grade, he knew he wanted to come to IU. All it took was a visit to the campus on spring break and a meeting with Coach Todd Yeagley and Buckmaster was set. He played two years in high school, freshman and sophomore year, and played for the Indiana Fire all four years of high school. 

All this time he was playing in the midfield, never once playing defense. He remembers in his first match with IU that he played poorly and took a role with the bench.

He admits it hurt his confidence a little bit, but the feisty defender was used to fighting for his share. He got moved to the backline, and by the time junior year came around, Buckmaster was the pitbull on the Hoosiers’ backline that shutout their opponents 18 times, and held opponents scoreless for a total of 966:28 consecutive minutes — the fourth longest streak in NCAA history. 

It was a historic run and Buckmaster was a big part it. 

A run that saw the Hoosiers advance to the NCAA Championship game against Stanford and losing a heartbreak in double overtime. 

After smiling along with his recruitment story and nicknames, Buckmaster’s expression changed with the thought of that game on Dec. 10, 2017. His blue eyes looked down at the practice field grass at Bill Armstrong Stadium, “Yeah, I think about it a lot.”

The Hoosiers were eight minutes away from forcing penalty kicks. 

“We were right there, it sucks. I think we would’ve had them in PK’s,” he said. 

However, Buckmaster, always the one to have fun and the constant smile of enjoyment on his face, was optimistic for his team’s goals this season. 

He listed four goals: not lose for the rest of the season, win the Big Ten regular season, win the Big Ten Tournament and win the NCAA Championship to cap it off. 

To remix the end of Meek Mill’s verse in “R.I.C.O.”: 

The Hoosiers started 0-1, but have won eight straight and are number two on the list

They really are rolling

They can hear echos from teams on the pitch from informants 

I think they’re ignoring 

Shh, listen, you hear that?

Their opponents might just get hit with the Rico. 

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