The two-goal margin in Maryland's 9-7 victory over Navy before 3,295 at Rip Miller Field in Annapolis yesterday was the largest between the teams since 1998.

Co-No. 4 Maryland (7-1) had won the previous four meetings, all by a 6-5 score.

Yesterday's game, however, was just as close as the others. Navy trailed 8-7 following back-to-back goals by senior Eddy Holton and freshman Ian Dingman, the last of which came with 1 minute 38 seconds left.

Maryland won the next faceoff, but Navy sophomore goaltender Seth DiNola intercepted a pass with 1:25 left. Navy was just starting to settle its offensive possession when Maryland junior Chris Passavia stripped the ball from junior Ben Bailey with 52 seconds left.

That led to a fast break, and senior defensive midfielder Brett Harper scored the clinching goal with 37 seconds left.

Passavia also had stripped the ball from Bailey, with Navy trailing by a goal, in the final seconds last year.

"When you have playmakers like that," Maryland Coach Dave Cottle said, "you sleep better at night."

The victory marked the 11th straight for Maryland over No. 16 Navy (4-5) dating from 1992. Navy scored three goals in the first quarter yesterday; that tied the most it had scored in a quarter against Maryland since 1992.

The game was tied at 5 following a goal by Bailey with 4:41 left in the third quarter. At that point, Maryland became more committed to its pre-game plan of holding the ball for long possessions.

The Terrapins controlled the ball for 15:21 of the final 19:41. They outscored Navy 4-2 and outshot the Midshipmen 12-5 in that span.

Junior Dan LaMonica finished with six assists and freshman Joe Walters had four goals for Maryland. Dingman had two goals and two assists for Navy.

The Midshipmen must wonder what it will take to defeat Maryland. The Terrapins have won 17 of the past 18 dating from 1986; Navy's only victory in that span came in 1992 when goaltender Kevin Farrington set a school record with 27 saves in an 11-3 win.

"We've had some close games with some of the big dogs," said Navy junior defensive midfielder Bucky Morris, who had four takeaways and a goal.

* JAMES MADISON WOMEN 9, MARYLAND 8: The visiting Dukes led 9-6 with 14:40 left, then held on against No. 1 Maryland (11-1). Gail Decker had four goals for JMU (8-3). Freshman Delia Cox scored twice for Maryland.