There are intruders on Shaka Hislop's turf.
"Excuse me!" he shouts as four football-tossing strangers drift into the north end zone of Howard University's Greene Stadium.
Dusk has set in. The Bison's preseason soccer practice is about to begin and Hislop has been rudely distracted in front of one of the goals he has so gracefully protected since 1988.
"Excuse me!" he says with stinging directness. The boys mumble under their breath and reluctantly take their game to the other side of the field.
This is Shaka Hislop's domain. The 18x44-yard penalty area belongs to him. Local colleges have had a reputation in recent years of developing some of the nation's best goalkeepers, and Hislop may be the best of a group that includes Virginia's Tony Meola, now with the U.S. national team.
Hislop enters his final season having recorded nearly as many shutouts (31) as number of goals allowed (33) in 58 games, but his true ability can't be numerically measured.
At 6 feet 4 and blessed with magnificent skill, Hislop is on the road to a promising career with a European professional club and the national team of Trinidad, his native country.
"The world will hear a lot about Shaka," Bison Coach Keith Tucker said.
Hislop, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering major, is the only starter remaining from the 1988 Bison team that went 19-1-1 and lost to Indiana in the NCAA final. He yielded seven goals all season and was Soccer America's rookie of the year and the co-defensive MVP of the final four.
In his most dramatic moment, in a second-round match against Philadelphia Textile, Hislop stopped a crucial shot in the ninth round of a penalty kick tiebreaker and followed by scoring a goal to touch off a wild home celebration.
The next week he faced Meola for the only time, supplying a few startling saves in the Bison's 3-2 overtime upset.
But what he remembers the most is the 1-0 championship loss, when a questionable tripping call on teammate Mike Williams resulted in a successful penalty kick in the first half by the host Hoosiers.
"That is my motivation more than anything else right now," he said.
"I want to get back there. I know what it is like to play for the championship. I want to go back and make it right."
The Bison came close in 1989, losing to Indiana again, this time in the quarterfinals. Then last year the team and Hislop got off to a poor start and never recovered, finishing 9-8-4 and out of tournament contention for the first time since 1987.
On a few occasions last season, when the inconsistent attack sputtered, Tucker moved Hislop to forward. The result was three goals, two in a 3-1 win against George Washington.
"I love to use him up front," said Tucker, who will have Shaka's younger brother, Kona, supplying the offense this year. "He has the ability to play anywhere he wants."
But there is no doubt his true trade is protecting the net with acrobatic saves. Trinidad soccer officials invited him on short notice to play for the national team in this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup in Los Angeles, but he declined, partly because of an internship at NASA's engineering department.
It shouldn't be long before Hislop gets his chance to replace veteran Michael Maurice, who allowed Paul Caligiuri's improbable goal that sent the United States to the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.
"I would like to play" in 1994 World Cup qualifying, Hislop said. "It is a dream. Trinidad came close the last time and I would like the chance to do it again."
And there likely will be professional opportunities in Europe. Many coaches believe he has the raw ability and the work ethic to succeed in the world's most grueling leagues, and the fact that he was born in London and has dual citizenship will make it easier to receive a work permit.
"When you've got a six-foot-four guy who can go to the ground as well as anybody," Tucker said, "you know he can play at a higher level. Shaka's as good as they come."