WALLINGFORD, CONN. – The Gophers have a chance to win their third consecutive NCAA title Sunday, but they won't be taking home the Patty Kazmaier Award this year.
Gophers sophomore Hannah Brandt was one of three finalists for the award, which goes to the nation's top player, but on Saturday it went to Clarkson senior Jamie Lee Rattray.
The Gophers (38-1-1) will meet Clarkson (30-5-5) in Sunday's championship game in Hamden, Conn. When Brandt went to congratulate Rattray after the ceremony at the Oakdale Theater, it was the first time they'd met.
"I know a couple of [Brandt's] teammates, and I've seen some crazy YouTube videos of some of her goals," Rattray said. "So it's great to meet her, and it's kind of neat how we're going to compete for a national championship tomorrow.
"I think it's going to be a good game. There's some great talent on both teams. I'm really excited."
Brandt, a sophomore from Hill-Murray, leads the nation with 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists). Rattray has 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists), and the other finalist, Cornell junior Jillian Saulnier, had 56 points (28 goals, 28 assists).
The Gophers have two previous Kazmaier Award winners in Krissy Wendell (2005) and Amanda Kessel (2013). Kessel, who took this season off to compete in the Olympics, attended Saturday's ceremony and said she still plans to return to the Gophers next season.