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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As hard as 2020 was on everyone, 2021 has started even worse for Sacramento State’s men’s soccer team, with the deaths of two Hornet teammates in January.

Talon Bonanno may have only been 16 years old but as the honorary team captain for the Hornets since 2017, his presence was always welcomed by the players.

“We treated him like one of our players,” said head coach Mike Linenberger. “We wanted him to be absolutely involved in our program as much as he could and wanted to be.”

Despite being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer back in 2017, Talon — who got connected with the Hornets through a university-wide partnership with Team Impact — quickly established himself with the players.

“I think they went into it with the fact of how can we help him? And, I think, they were truly amazed at how much of an impact he had on us,” he continued.

So when the news came earlier this week that Talon had passed away, it was still a shock.

“We knew things weren’t going well but he’s been such a fighter for so many years and he’s defied the odds many, many times. And we were all hoping he was going to do it again,” Linenberger told FOX40.

“I received a really nice text from his mother earlier today talking about how much we meant to him and how much we helped him — but I actually think he helped us more than we helped him,” he continued.

As if one death in the program wasn’t hard enough, the news was preceded by a tragedy back on Jan. 12 when teammate Arath Chavez from Galt was killed in a motorcycle accident in Southern California.

More than anything, it has put things in perspective for the Hornets, Linenberger said.

“We were all maybe feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves with the pandemic and we couldn’t practice like we want to, we couldn’t play games. But then when you lose two teammates, losing a season is not that big of a deal,” he said.

“Obviously, we miss them and we’ll never forget them,” he added.