Clarkson’s Cayley Mercer, left, and Shelby Nisbet  celebrate a goal against Minnesota during the first period.	AP PHOTOSun staff photos can be
Clarkson's Cayley Mercer, left, and Shelby Nisbet celebrate a goal against Minnesota during the first period. AP PHOTO

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HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) -- Shannon MacAulay scored on a breakaway with 4:16 left in the third and it proved to be the difference as Clarkson beat two-time defending champion Minnesota, 5-4, in Sunday's NCAA women's hockey championship.

Vanessa Plante broke a 3-3 tie from the point with 8:28 to go for Clarkson. MacAulay, who also had two assists, stole the puck at her own blue line and scored on a backhander on the break to make it 5-3.

Minnesota defenseman Baylee Gillanders cut the lead in half 35 seconds later, but Clarkson (31-5-5) held on for its first NCAA championship in any sport.

Top-ranked Minnesota (38-2-1) had been unbeaten in 26. Maryanne Menefee took Dani Cameranesi's pass in the slot and one-timed it past Erica Howe on a power play to cut Clarkson's lead to 3-2 at 6:09 of the second.

At 7:57, Howe stopped Megan Wolfe's right-point shot, but the rebound caromed off Rachael Bona's skate and in. Officials initially waved the goal off but checked video replay, changing the call.

The Gophers controlled possession for most of the first and led 1-0 before the Knights scored twice in the last 1:30 of the period.