Virginia survived a late rally by Maryland to edge the Terps, 8-7, at College Park yesterday and protect its No. 1 national lacrosse ranking. Both teams are guaranteed a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The low-scoring game went down to the wire, but the Virginia defense picked up key loose balls in the last minute to secure the victory.

After falling behind, 4-2, in the first half, the Cavaliers dominated the third period and most of the fourth. They scored three goals in the opening 2:23 of the final period to take an 8-4 lead.

That was the score with five minutes left, and it appeared the Virginia defense would control play the rest of the way.

However, with 4:18 left, Bill Foster broke the Terp drought, rifling a shot past Cav goalie Joe Bottner and the silent Maryland crowd of 5,122 started to stir.

The Terps, who were being beaten to loose balls most of the afternoon, started using their sticks to knock the ball loose. Attackman Mike Duffy, after a wild fray in front of the Cav net, whipped in a goal with 3:13 left, bringing the Terps within two, 8-6.

With 1:04 remaining, after the Terps used several flying body blocks to gain possession, Duffy again converted an unassisted goal.

With the Terps needing just one goal to tie, Cav Midfielder Steve Kraus, who has won an astonishing 57 of 76 faceoffs on the year, came through again. He controlled the ball, the Cavs passed the ball effectively to escape the Terps' defense and ran out the clock.

Both teams are 3-1 in the ACC. Virginia is 7-1 overall. The fourth-ranked Terps are 4-2. Neither team has any remaining ACC games.

"I didn't pick us as No. 1 last week," said Cav Coach Jim Adams, "but I guess we strengthened our position today."

"We shut down their break beautifully, which is their game," said Cav defenseman Tony Savarese. "We got almost all of the big loose balls -- which is our game. But it got pretty crazy in the end. I kept looking up at the clock hoping it would end."