With a Play of the Year-level winning goal Sept. 6 and the first of three straight Essex scores two nights later, Towle led the Hornets to deceptively tight 3-1 victories over Rutland and Rice in the Jay Brady Kickoff Classic. In the season opener against the Red Raiders, Towle snapped a 1-1 deadlock with 16 minutes left in regulation after dancing through a string of defenders in the penalty area before snapping a shot just inside the left post for the lead. Against Rice, the Hornets trailed 1-0 when Towle connected on a 25-yard free kick to tie it, followed by scores from Stefan Digangi and Ryan Guerino for the victory. Essex had also trailed against Rutland before Peter Osiecki’s PK, and Adam Lyon sealed the win in the final minutes with another from the spot.