The Howard University soccer team, suffering through its worst season since 1987, was informed by the NCAA last week that it must forfeit a 2-0 victory over James Madison because its goalkeeper played despite receiving a red card -- and an automatic one-game suspension -- in the previous match against Hartford.

Howard (5-8-3 after the forfeit) is appealing the decision on the game of Sept 12. It contends that goalie Shaka Hislop was inappropriately penalized during the game in Hartford, Conn., in which the Bison received three red cards for dissent.

The game report indicates that Hislop, who was in street clothes for the Hartford game and was serving a suspension for a red card he received a day earlier against Vermont, was issued the card, leaving him ineligible for the game against the Dukes.

"The referee {Vincent Mauro} told me the red card was not given to a player," Bison assistant coach Curtis Landy said. "Now we're told that it was, and we forfeit. This is ridiculous."

Mauro was the only American referee at last summer's World Cup in Italy.

The culprit, Howard officials say, was the team's bus driver, who was watching the match from behind a fence and was yelling at the officials. Bison Coach Keith Tucker and forward Muyiwa Omotajo also received red cards in separate incidents. Omotajo did not play against James Madison.

According to Cliff McCrath, secretary of the NCAA soccer rules committee, the only way Howard can win the appeal is if the referee submits a written report stating he never issued a card to Hislop. Regardless, the forfeit affects this season's records only and will be recorded in permanent records as a Howard victory. Madison's adjusted record is 13-4. . . .

No. 14 George Mason was the beneficiary of a recent rules violation. The Patriots had a 9-4-4 record after tying Virginia and losing to William and Mary last week. However, the NCAA announced last week Florida International used an ineligible player in a 1-1 tie with George Mason on Sept. 15 and that the Golden Panthers must forfeit.

The change will benefit the Patriots (now 10-4-3) if they must rely on an at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. American Uprising

While the American men's team (10-7-1) is 0-5-1 since being ranked No. 14 three weeks ago, the first-year women's program is 10-0-1 since losing its first two games.

The female Eagles, also coached by Pete Mehlert, defeated George Washington and tied Maryland. Forward Liz Pike, a former All-Met from Lake Braddock High School, has 20 goals and seven assists.Extra Kicks

Radford's Dante Washington, from Oakland Mills High, continues to lead the nation in scoring with 54 points (18 goals, 18 assists). Teammate Jeff Majewski (Centennial) is 13th nationally with 15 goals and seven assists. Radford is at Maryland Sunday. . . .

Boston College goalie Brian Boussy (Oakland Mills) was Big East defensive player of the week after recording shutouts against Providence and Georgetown.